On Friday, the conservative-led Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to uphold a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15-weeks of pregnancy. It voted 5-4 to overturn it. Roe v. Wade. Chief Justice John Roberts supported the Mississippi law, but not its overturning Roe. Since Friday, at least nine states have banned abortion. 17 more are expected to follow suit. We speak with Michele Goodwin, chancellor’s professor at University of California, Irvine School of Law, whose new piece for The New York Times is headlined “No, Justice Alito, Reproductive Justice Is in the Constitution.”
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AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.
Today we spend the hour on the Supreme Court’s long-anticipated ruling Friday that overturned Roe v. WadeThe landmark decision that established the constitutional right of abortion 50 years ago was referred to as. Friday’s conservative court ruled 6-3 to uphold a Republican-backed Mississippi law which bans abortion after 15 week of pregnancy. They voted 5-4 to repeal it. Roe completely. John Roberts, a conservative chief justice, supported the Mississippi law, but not overturning Roe. Nine states have already prohibited abortion since Friday, and 17 more are promising to do the same soon.
In his majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito wrote, quote, “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
In their dissent, the court’s three liberal justices wrote, quote, “With sorrow — for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection — we dissent.”
Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas supported the majority but concurred in a concurring opinion that key landmark rulings which established gay rights, the right of contraception, and other important rulings should also be overturned.
Protests brokeout across the country to protest the ruling. These marches continued over the weekend with thousands of people marching in support.
PROTESTER: The Supreme Court believes they can make a law on this land, which the majority of the country doesn’t support. This will take away the basic human rights for over half the people who live here. I’m mad!
AMY GOODMAN: Many clinics with abortion bans in place stopped offering abortions Friday in many states. This was because it was the best way of protecting staff and patients. Clinics cancelled appointments and asked patients for help elsewhere.
Reproductive rights activists are also mobilizing to help patients with travel, funds, and other issues.
Renee Bracey Sherman (executive director of We Testify) speaks at a protest on Saturday.
RENEE BRACEY SHERMAN: It’s also going to be critical that you show up in four, five, six, seven, eight, nine months, and somebody is arrested for their stillbirth or their miscarriage or self-managing their abortions.
AMY GOODMAN: In our next segment, we’ll be going to Missouri, which became the first state to enact its trigger law after Friday’s ruling. This is Congressmember Cori Bush, a Democrat of Missouri, responding to the Supreme Court’s ruling Friday.
REP. CORI BUSH: Forty-nine years — I’m sorry — 49 years, and they stripped it away. … Thirty-six million people will be affected, and it’s “Oh, well.” Thirty-six million people, it’s “Oh, well.” Thirty-six million people, and this is a far-right, extremist Supreme Court that’s making this decision that affects other people, that affects lives, when Black women were — when we know that Black women, the leading cause of death before 1973 was the sepsis, was the sepsis that went along with these unsafe abortions. And to say, “Hey, we’re good if we’re going back there. We’re gonna send you back there,” to know that people are already hurting, that people need services — this is healthcare. It’s like mental health. It’s like going to get your — get the services for heart disease, get services for a toothache. It’s healthcare.
AMY GOODMAN: In the past, Congressmember Bush shared that she was raped as a child and had an abortion as a teenager.
President Biden denounced Friday’s ruling and vowed to protect access to abortion pills and contraception. In the meantime, Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic Senator from Massachusetts, and 25 other senators sent a letter to Biden requesting that he open federal enclaves to red states to abortion clinics. This is Democratic Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaking Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press.
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO–CORTEZ: The president and the Democratic Party need to realize that this crisis is not a crisis of identity. RoeThis is a crisis for democracy. The Supreme Court has dramatically exceeded its authority.
AMY GOODMAN: For more, we’re joined by two guests. In Philadelphia, Kathryn “Kitty” Kolbert is with us, co-founder of the Center for Reproductive Rights. She argued the landmark case in Casey vs. Planned Parenthood In 1992, before the Supreme Court, which upheld Roe. She’s the co-author of the book How to Control Women: What We Must Now Do to Save Reproductive Freedom.
Also with us is Michele Goodwin, chancellor’s professor at the University of California, Irvine School of Law, host of the Ms. magazine podcast Michele Goodwin on the Issues Author of Policing the womb: Invisible women and the criminalization of motherhood. She has just a piece Out The New York Times headlined “No, Justice Alito, Reproductive Justice Is in the Constitution.”
We would love to have you both back. Democracy Now! Professor Goodwin, let’s begin with you. Talk about your response to the Supreme Court ruling. Roe After almost 50 years?
MICHELE GOODWIN: Well, it’s good to be back with you, Amy, on this show.
As we saw with the leaked draft of the decision, it is filled with errors and omissions. It is a selective, if it isn’t opportunistic reading of American history. It does not center — in all of its claimed originalism, in all of its claimed textualism, interestingly enough, it avoids the 13th Amendment. It even skips the first sentence in the 14th Amendment.
And here’s what my New York Times It was all about piece. It was because when Congress abolished slavery and involuntary service, it wasn’t just for Black men. They understood that involuntary slavery for Black women in America was involuntary sexual assaults, and rapes. This was because Black women were forced to work in the fields and under the weight, which was a different form of slavery.
This was well-known. This was the subject of a speech and writing by the abolitionist in Congress, who led the way to the 13th Amendment. After a speech about Black women being raped, Charles Sumner, a Massachusetts senator, was nearly beat to death in the halls Congress. Sojourner Truth spoke out about it. It was evident. The New York TimesIt was covered in articles. The idea that involuntary servitude was inconsistent with involuntary reproduce is absurd. It was mentioned everywhere. It was well-known that this was one of the most devastating effects of American slavery. The 13th Amendment abolished it. The 14th Amendment recognized that Black women in the South were still being physically, psychologically and reproductively harmed. Their children were being denied citizenship. Their children were being taken from them and snatched. The 14th Amendment was ratified.
The piece covers all these categories in detail to provide an education to the Supreme Court. It also reminds our country that Black women have been effectively erased from the Constitution. We can erase all women from Constitution by erasing Black women. The 13th Amendment and 14th Amendment freed Black women not only from these bondsages but also freed them from white women’s bondages.
All of this is not given any reading by the Supreme Court’s originalists or textualists. They seem to ignore all that and have made us a country where there is freedom, where individuals can be completely free in their bodies and also where it isn’t. And one can’t help but understand this as being so consistent with the patterns of slavery and Jim Crow in the United States.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s talk about the trajectory right through to now. People of color will be most affected by the absence of healthcare when abortion is banned in every state. Let’s talk about the Duke study about Black maternal mortality and how it compares to white women who are pregnant.
MICHELE GOODWIN: Well, I’m glad that you mentioned that, because what is also alarming in this opinion, and also in the draft opinion, is how it gives no regard to facts, concurrent facts. The United States ranks 55th worldwide in terms of maternal death. It is not in the same league with France, Germany, and other peer countries. Instead, it’s in peer company with nations that still publicly lash and stone women.
In 2016, the Supreme Court’s own record showed that women were 14 times more likely to die by carrying a pregnancy to term than by having an abortion. Once we flash what this looks like in terms of race, then we really get a sense of the horror that’s behind all of this, and again with the Supreme Court deciding that it would pay no attention to it. So, in Mississippi, we’re looking at 118 times — Black women more likely to die 118 times by carrying a pregnancy to term than by having an abortion. According to Mississippi’s own data from their Department of Health, a Black woman — 80% of the cardiac deaths in that state occur to Black women. Black women don’t make up 80% of the female population in the state but are 80% of the cardiac deaths during pregnancy. And nationally, they’re three-and-a-half times more likely than white counterparts to die due to maternal mortality.
But, Amy, that’s not all. If you examine certain counties in these antiabortion states, you’ll see that Black women could be five, 10 or 15x more likely to die if they have to have a child to term than if they are allowed to have an abortion. And it’s just that glaring and alarming. And what’s so stunning about it is that the Supreme Court gives no consideration to this data.