According to a memo, PoliticoYesterday, the Supreme Court voted privately to overturn Roe v. WadeAnd Planned Parenthood v. Casey — the first draft majority opinion in the modern history of the court to be disclosed publicly while a case was still pending. The draft opinion, purportedly by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. claims that Roe is constitutionally unsound — that there is no part of the nation’s founding document that guarantees the right to an abortion — and therefore should be overturned. Although the holding won’t be final until it’s published, likely in two months, it will be final if the Supreme Court limits or overturns it. RoeAbortion would still be legal in 21 of the United States and could be made illegal in 24 other states or territories.
Alito claims that the overturning of the Constitution is possible, RoeThis is a democratic way to correct federal excesses. Republicans are mobilizing to institute a federal ban on abortionIn the event Roe It is overturned. There is nothing democratic about the state impeding people’s bodily autonomy. And most people agree80% of Americans think that abortion should not be legal in any or most cases. This compares to 19% who believe it should be illegal.
Pro-abortion organizations have been pointing out the flaws of Roe — which included abortion in the constitutional right to privacy — for decades, but for precisely the opposite reasons as anti-abortioners. RoeEven though abortion was widely accepted, it was never guaranteed that we would have the right to it. This is due to socioeconomic as well as political barriers that made abortion and access to reproductive health care difficult for millions of people. (Some feminists have called instead, for instance, for a federal abortion rights law.)
The memo also puts forward the view, echoed by Donald Trump appointee Justice Amy Coney Barrett as well as legislators earlier this year in Mississippi, that legal protections for pregnant people, including so-called “safe haven laws” and the increased acceptance of pregnancy outside of marriage, negate the necessity for abortion. “Women are not without electoral or political power,” Alito writes. “The percentage of women who register to vote and cast ballots is consistently higher than the percentage of men who do so.”
A recent studyA total ban on abortion in the U.S. is estimated to be around 80%. The overall increase in deaths from pregnancy would be 21 percent, with a 33 per cent increase among Black women. The draft opinion is also timely as the United States has some of highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Additionally, the country has some of highest health care costs and provides little support for pregnant women, mothers, caregivers, families, and caregivers. In 2015, the average cost of delivering an American child was $233610, adjusted for inflation. Investopedia estimatesThe cost of raising a child is $272,049. According to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionIn February 2020, the U.S. maternal mortality rate was 23.8 deaths per 100,000 live-born babies, an increase of 20.1 from the previous year. This is more than twice the rate in 2020. maternal mortality rate of other high-income countries, Canada, and France.
Mississippi, where the pending abortion ban is in question. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, 33 childbearing people die per 100,000 pregnancies — one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country. Black women in the U.S. have higher rates for maternal mortality (55.3 non-Hispanic Black women), and these rates are increasing steadily. This statistic is also reflected in Mississippi, where Black childbearing women are three times more likely than other race to die from a birth defect.
Moreover, there is no federally mandated leave for expectant parents, further creating an environment that is unsupportive of parents’ ability to care for their children postpartum.
The claim that the United States has become a safe and dignified place for people to give birth and raise children is frankly absurd — especially given that the same right-wing lawmakers engineering abortion bans are also at the forefront of dismantling and obliterating any kind of social safety net which would actually uphold and affirm human life.
Abortion bans are deadly. The leaked Supreme Court memo comes in a context of mounting bans, including in Florida (bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy), Idaho (6 weeks), Kentucky (15 weeks), Oklahoma (almost entirely), Mississippi (15 weeks) and Texas (6 weeks) — some of the most draconian bans on abortion since RoeThese additional barriers to care are made worse by the fact that people have to travel long distances, increase costs, and face deportation or imprisonment. In April, 26-year-old Lizelle Herrera, for example, was arrested in Texas for an alleged “self-induced abortion,” with her bond set at $500,000. Abortion bans are likely to be detrimental to the poor, Indigenous, Trans, and Poor. Her bond was set at $500,000.
The memo claims that striking down will not affect contraceptive access. Roe — but the anti-abortion movement has claimed with increasing fervor that the morning-after pill, hormonal contraception and the copper IUD are abortifacients, tantamount to medical and surgical abortion.
Alito claims that there was no historical right to abortion in the U.S. Even though enslaved Black women were forbidden from having abortions, decreased their owner’s profits, through 1861, abortion was permitted in all states, albeit socially “undesirable.” Efforts to professionalize the medical field and expand the political influence of physicians meant that by 1910, every state had anti-abortion laws, many of which provided exemptions to protect the life of the pregnant person. The legality of abortion in this country has been around for much longer than it used to be.
The memo, which was leaked, also reiterates an anti-abortion talking-point that paints abortion as a racism practice. It doesn’t mention the fact that abortion bans have always been about instituting right-wing racist agendas. As segregation was ended and the U.S. political landscape changed, conservatives turned their attention to abortion in the mid-20th century to gain support from white Americans. Further criminalization of abortion could lead to increased policing, surveillance, and incarceration of immigrant communities and others of color.
Many groups that support reproductive rights will try to defend it. RoeIn the courts over the next weeks. But it remains to be seen if they will. RoeIts technical constitutional viability is not the point. Abortion is a human rights that the majority of Americans support. It will take a militant, mobilized grassroots movement to protect reproductive freedoms. There are many people who have been helping other women have abortions for years. The rights of reproductive justice advocates, feminists, and their allies, have been protected for a long time. This work continues regardless of what the Supreme Court decides.
A list of abortion funds — which help abortion seekers travel to states where abortion is accessible — can be found here. A guide to self-managed and pills for abortion can be found here here. You can also order abortion drugs here before you’re pregnant. No matter what the Supreme Court decides over the next weeks, we will continue to provide abortion for all who need it.