‘With sorrow…we dissent’
By: Lilli Erigero and Kayla Butler
The Supreme Court of the United States decided on Friday, in Dobbs, to overturn Roe v Wade, the landmark ruling that granted women the constitutional right to an abortion. Though this decision comes as no surprise after the Supreme Court’s plan to overturn Roe leaked to the public months ago, Americans across all 50 states are appalled and angry at the revoking of this fundamental human right.
This decision is not a reflection of the American people but of a conservative power struggle. More than two thirds of Americans are in favor of retaining Roe, and 57% believe abortion should be legal in most circumstances. The right to a safe abortion is fundamental for the reproductive health of women. Despite this, Republican officials are seeking a wide-spread ban on abortion. With the appointments of Justice Kavanaugh and Barrett, Republicans have an official majority in the Supreme Court and are using the court to carry out their ideological policies.
The court’s conservative majority claims that the constitution does not protect the right for women to choose abortion. Justice Alito writes: “The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely — the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment”. This opinion is joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. These justices attacked the precedent that was established in Roe and reaffirmed in Planned Parenthood v Casey while arguing that the legal framework “proved workable in courts across the country.”
The dissenting opinion comes only from the remaining liberal judges Justice Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. In contrast they say “today, the court ... says that from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of …a state can force her to bring a pregnancy to term, even at the steepest personal and familial costs”. I can’t help but agree with the dissent.
The decision to decide the legality of abortion is now up to the states. For residents of CA, WA, OR, NV, AK, HI, CO, NM, MN, IL, ME, VT, NY, MA, NJ, and MD, we are unlikely to see changes to legislation regarding abortion. The other 34 states now face a cascade of antiabortion laws, with 13 of those states having trigger laws that go into effect within the next 30 days.
These antiabortion laws mean the banning of safe abortions and the criminalization and surveillance of pregnant women, doctors, pharmacists, clinic staffs, and all those who aid an abortion. Additionally, the overturning of Roe puts other civil rights rulings at risk like the right to same sex marriage and the right to contraceptives. Justice Thomas, in his leaked opinion, mentioned Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell, as cases to revisit.
Rulings like this showcase just how our elected government fails its people. Even though leaders like President Joe Biden give speeches calling the overturning a “sad day”, we see no action from his administration. The Democratic party’s failure to protect and deliver to the poor and working class is a real testament to who the party actually serves and represents. Since Clinton, Obama, and now Biden have squandered protections for Roe, we are now left with this daunting decision. With a Democratic majority in all three branches of government, you’d think that there was something that the Biden administration can do. The inaction on behalf of men that are so-called leaders of the free world is deafening.
Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan wrote, “With sorrow–for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection–we dissent.”
To fight back in California against the ruling, you can visit the ACLU’s website for information and how to contact California officials.