The right to safe and legal abortion in the United States is under threat.
Tuesday, Politico revealed a leaked draft opinion by United States Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Jr. that would effectively overturn the landmark cases of Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), which affirmed a federal, constitutional right of women to make medical decisions about their bodies in the event of a pregnancy. Later that day, Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the leaked document — a February draft of the majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case challenging Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks. Knowledge of the impending change set off nationwide protests and speculation about what effect the decision will have.
At a pro-choice rally this week in downtown Milwaukee, Wis., 27-year-old Mekenna, shared her abortion experience before a crowd of hundreds. She highlighted the stigma that comes along with making the decision, as well as the economic and psychological barriers imposed by government restrictions, such as a 24-hour waiting period and requirement that the woman be shown an ultrasound of the fetus. She added that the role of the health care system should be not to make moral judgments but to provide safe procedures.
“Removing access to safe abortions does not stop abortions from happening,” she said.
Though the ruling would not make abortion illegal, as many as 26 states are poised to limit or ban the procedure in some way, shape or form. In some cases, a Supreme Court decision striking down Roe would automatically trigger bans, including Wisconsin where an 1849 law which bans abortion in all cases — even rape or incest — unless the mother’s life is endangered would be reinstated. Congressional Republicans have avoided answering questions about whether they would pursue a federal ban on abortion, a position that almost definitively guarantees they will.
Since Roe was passed, the Republican Party has worked hand-in-hand with its Evangelical base — which views abortion as a moral issue – to overturn the 1973 law. It’s a saga that, in recent years, saw a Mitch McConnell-led senate refuse to approve Barack Obama nominee Merrick Garland with almost a year left in his presidency. The gamble paid off when Donald Trump, who famously promised that Roe would be “automatically” overturned if he were to become president, was elected in November 2016. Trump was gifted a second nomination when Senior Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, a conservative, resigned in July 2018 and a third when Ruth Bader Ginsburg — a fierce feminist and liberal icon — died less than two months before the 2020 election.
Trump followed through on his pledge to stack the court with judges who would overturn Roe, appointing Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, all of whom are projected to vote with the majority in this case despite assuring congress in some way or another that Roe was “settled law”. Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett, who are all under 60, enjoy lifetime appointments to the land’s highest court and are expected to be a vanguard against progressive policies for the next few decades.
If this ruling stands, it would flaut public opinion, which overwhelmingly supports choice. A whopping 70 percent of Americans do not want Roe struck down and about 60 percent of American adults support access to abortion during the first three months of a pregnancy. Evangelicals stand apart with 77 percent believing abortion should be illegal in all cases.
But this case is about more than just abortion, according to Samantha, a member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation — our right to privacy and bodily autonomy hang in the balance.
“This is an all-out attack on our rights,” she said. “They wanna make sure we have no control.”
Some have pointed out that the reasoning in this opinion, which argues that the decision in Roe was illegitimate because the Constitution does not explicitly protect abortion, could endanger previous rulings on same-sex marriage, access to contraception and even interracial marriage. It also sees Alito ratchet up the rhetoric, casting pro-choice advocates as “abortionists”. Though, ultimately, no one can say quite how far conservative activists are willing to go, what is clear is that religious elements in this country — who see the law in moral terms — will go to great lengths to accomplish their aims.
What is also clear is that Democrats are not up to the challenge of protecting us. As Republicans pave the way toward theocracy, the Democrats have avoided making moves to enshrine Roe in federal law, despite enjoying a supermajority during the early Obama years and holding current majorities in both houses of congress.
In addition, the Biden Administration is doing its best to have a chilling effect on free speech by declaring war on “disinformation”. The newly created Disinformation Governance Board, a part of the Department of Homeland Security, will have the task of determining and disseminating “best practices” to partner agencies. In other words, the DGB — an unelected body operating without any discernible form of oversight — will have the power to determine what is considered acceptable speech.
In a startling display of doublethink, Barack Obama, the most beloved living Democratic president, recently referred to himself as a “First Amendment absolutist” before launching into a full-throated pitch for increasing online censorship.
“The First Amendment is a check on the power of the state,” said Obama at a Stanford Cyber Policy Center event. “It doesn’t apply to private companies like Facebook or Twitter, any more than it applies to editorial decisions made by the New York Times or Fox News. Never has. Social media companies already make choices about what is or is not allowed on their platforms and how that content appears. Both explicitly through content moderation and implicitly through algorithms. The problem is we often don’t know what principles govern those decisions.”
Obama, somehow, fails to see the irony of suggesting we should empower people who govern with a lack of transparency. His position that the government, but not the people, should be able to see behind the curtain at tech companies is startlingly un-democratic and ignores the lack of public trust in government.
Samantha decried what she called the Capitalist patriarchy and claimed the establishment is waging an “all-out-war on human rights”. She called on individuals everywhere to “fight back” by liberating ourselves from the cages of gender and superiority.
She added, “Now, more than ever, solidarity is crucial.” +