If you’re a woman living in the United States, you most likely heard the news on Monday of the Supreme Court’s proposal to overturn Roe vs. Wade. Regardless of being a female or not, this news is bizarre. Roe vs. Wade was a Supreme Court case heard in 1973 that challenged Texas’ laws on abortion at that time. The Supreme Court voted in favor (7 - 2) of women being able to decide for themselves on terminating a pregnancy, and that it was unconstitutional for any government to intervene with the woman’s choice.
Referring to the matter in the draft as an “opinion of the court,” Alito justifies the action by saying, “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.” The most interesting and arguable point of Alito’s conclusion is “that a right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and traditions.”
Essentially, the draft would reverse nearly five decades of constitutional protection of women’s rights on abortion. It would obliterate the federal protection and leave the decision to the state courts to handle the matters.
Typically, draft decisions aren't disclosed before they’re voted on. A leak of this magnitude has never happened in the modern history of American courts. It’s expected to continue to bubble over as this is the most controversial proposal on the docket.
According to the New York Post Thursday, Chief Justice John Roberts commented on the leak trying to end abortion rights, and called it “absolutely appalling.” Roberts attended a judicial conference in Atlanta, Georgia after the inner workings of the high courts began coming to light. The following day Roberts called for an investigation into the leak to be carried out by Supreme Court Police.
Roberts was more concerned about the leak than what was leaked. The Post quoted Roberts saying, “If the person behind it thinks that it will affect our work, that’s just foolish.”
Naturally, protests have been taking place at the Supreme Court building in Washington D.C. since the news broke out.
In December 2021, the Supreme Court heard a Mississippi case that directly challenged Roe v. Wade. In short, this case (Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization) lit the fire burning presently in Washington.
Clinically, a pregnancy is considered viable at about twenty-four weeks. The Mississippi Abortion Law, made law in December, makes most abortions illegal after fifteen weeks. Mississippi’s law was initially set to take effect in 2018 but was blocked in a federal appellate court. Other red states have proposed similar laws to regulate abortions but were also blocked in appellate court. The approval of the Mississippi Abortion Law last December has officially changed the odds despite nearly fifty years of protection.
In 1992, the Supreme Court heard the case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey (Governor Robert Casey of Pennsylvania.) The original provisions outlined in Roe v. Wade were reevaluated and reinforced; further protecting American women’s rights to safe and hassle-free abortion.
The Hill reports Democrats pushing the vote now that it’s known the Supreme Court has something drafted. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer is pushing to vote next week to codify the current stance on abortion. While it’s early and sixty votes would be required to keep the momentum going, Democrats are planning to put up a fight.
According to Reuters, Justice Alito has not commented or appeared since his proposal was made public.
In New Jersey, there have been steps taken to preserve and widen women’s access to safe abortions. Abortion providers throughout the state are expecting an influx of women coming from out of state in need of their services should Roe v. Wade be overturned. New Jersey is ready to step up should the Federal government let an entire gender down and pull the plug on abortion access for more than half of the county’s women.