Absolutely unthinkable. Is this how a long-standing ruling on American women’s reproductive rights should be booted out? Is this how their cherished entitlement to abortion should end? Is this how the fate of their unwanted pregnancies will be decided henceforth? Is this how rights should be aborted?
Such troubling questions came clouding in as millions of American women struggled to understand the blue-bolt erasure of their Roe v Wade rights. The 1973 Roe v Wade decision was dear to their hearts as it defined their reproductive rights and entitlements unequivocally. In one swift stroke, on 24 June, the Supreme Court of the United States felled this notable Roe v Wade judgement.
A Sheath of Mysteries
Nearly 50 years have gone by since the Roe v Wade decision conferred legal recognition to American women’s right to abortion. The decision was a landmark as it recognised abortion as a constitutional right and thus legalised nationwide. This Roe v Wade overturning too is ‘historical’. In the sense, never before has there been such an insensitive abrogation of a constitutional right.
The decision to dynamite Roe v Wade is wrapped in a sheath of mysteries. When the initial decree was for regulating abortion, why did the Court do a rethink on the issue? What influenced the Court’s final decision which went on to fulfil Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign promise? Why did the Court supersede the senators of 50 American states while deciding on a universal American women issue?
Expect a Flurry of Lawsuits
Good questions these are. Unfortunately, they got one bad legal response, despite Chief Justice’s unwillingness to jettison Roe v Wade. Nevertheless, the judicial majority junked the court’s 50-year-old stand and went on to upset the balance between right-to-abortion and right-to-protection of a life within.
In one swift blow, the Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade has made abortion illegal in 13 states with trigger laws. Expect more states to join this list. Thus, this Court shocker could bring economic misery in more than 50 per cent of the American states where abortion is banned and expected to be banned. Worse, these states will be those with inadequate health infrastructure and impoverished workforce.
Rest of the states will now put in place fresh restrictions or widen existing ones. Naturally, conservative states will impose such restrictions in the coming months. A flurry of lawsuits will burden the courts eventually. For instance, lawsuits are already playing out in many states, including Michigan and Montana, for deciding whether abortion remains accessible in clinics there.
Overturning Serves no Purpose
Meanwhile, progressive states are getting ready to erect fresh legal protection for abortion, to extend fresh financial support for the needy and to augment the abortion workforce. Right moves these are, considering nearly 36 million American women are expected to be left to the mercy of their abortion-unfriendly states.
Thus, the worst sufferers post-Roe v Wade will be women who cannot afford to seek abortion services outside their states. No doubt, the incidence of the Roe v Wade overturning will be finally on women who will need abortion services the most. What will happen now?
Abortion centres, in a desperate bid for survival, will refer women to clinics in states where it is possible to abort. So, Roe v Wade or no Roe v Wade, women needing an abortion will get it done somehow, even if it means spending money to travel to clinics in abortion-friendly states. What use then is this anti-rights decision to throw Roe v Wade out?
A Paradigm Shift Needed
America needs to do this now. The Senate should shed their polarised proclivities and muster courage and conviction to pass an abortion-friendly legislation. Better still, the President of the United States should move in to restore the reproductive rights of women of his country. He could do this by recognising state-funding of activist groups supporting reproductive rights of American women.
Another required step now is the codification of American women’s rights to abortion. So, more than anything else, the wronged American women need a committed bunch of senators with determination to carry out this task. This alone can ensure the American woman’s right of choice is not violated.
All said and done, let American women have a future where a check on abrogation of their constitutional rights is firmly put in place. Until such a paradigm shift in rights-protection happens, legitimacy questions will continue to be raised on Supreme Court’s intentions. Inevitably, the Court’s popularity will keep dipping among rights-conscious Americans.
The upshot of these arguments is this: by striking Roe v Wade down, the Supreme Court has dealt a severe damage to its own reputation. The Court is now seen as a deliberate disruptor of long-standing constitutional laws, an inflictor of injuries on America’s status as a respecter of human rights and a heartless attacker of millions of hapless American women. Sadly, at the end of it, the Court has left behind a deeply-divided and a dangerously-polarised America for posterity.
After the Roe v Wade decision, US President Joe Biden said: “Today, the Supreme Court of the United States expressly took away [a] constitutional right from the American people it already recognized. They didn’t limit it. They simply took it away.” These words are sure to make many Americans fear about the likely fate of their other constitutional rights. Therein lies the real tragedy of an egregious anti-Roe v Wade decision.