Opinion | US Supreme Court will devastate America by overturning Roe

People+march+on+the+sidewalks+of+Springfield+Avenue+in+downtown+Urbana+towards+the+Champaign+County+Courthouse+during+Amnesty%E2%80%99s+Reproductive+Rights+Rally+on+May+8.+Senior+columnist+Andrew+Prozorovsky+argues+that+the+Supreme+Court+will+be+putting+many+people+at+risk+if+they+are+to+overturn+Roe+v.+Wade.

Sydney Laput

People march on the sidewalks of Springfield Avenue in downtown Urbana towards the Champaign County Courthouse during Amnesty’s Reproductive Rights Rally on May 8. Senior columnist Andrew Prozorovsky argues that the Supreme Court will be putting many people at risk if they are to overturn Roe v. Wade.

By Andrew Prozorovsky, Senior Columnist

The Supreme Court saw an unprecedented breach to inform the public in advance of an unprecedented opinion — in June, the Supreme Court will gut decisions Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood.

Roe v. Wade was a landmark Supreme Court decision that used the Constitution’s implicit right to privacy to compel states to allow abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy. Since then, countless Supreme Court decisions have cited Roe’s established right to privacy, meaning there are established precedents that rest on Roe’s precedent. Now, those decisions will be at risk, too.

Politico’s published draft of the upcoming opinion, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, is quite telling. 

It is written by Justice Samuel Alito, a staunchly conservative justice whose record reflects hardline anti-abortion views. Alito is condescending and smug about the 7-2 decision that has become the foundation for other privacy-based rights. 

Most of the ruling text does not regard constitutionality — it is policy, it is judicial activism and it is poor argumentation that completely severs itself from the Constitution. He uses terminology like “abortionists” rather than “abortion providers” and seems openly hostile. 

For example, at one point in the draft opinion, he indicates some pro-choice activists have an ulterior motive — killing Black children and limiting the spread of the Black race. This is a heinous accusation not rooted in any constitutional argument.

Based on oral arguments, Supreme Court reporters expected the court to undermine Roe and Casey, though few expected such a reactionary rebuke. There are not many outcomes that could have been worse for pro-choice advocates.

These reporters had good reason to expect only a moderate erosion of Roe. All five justices responsible for this decision were asked about Roe during their confirmation hearings, and all five patently lied. It was called “settled law” and an important reaffirmed precedent of the court — clearly what they felt they needed to say to secure votes for their confirmation.

Even moderate Republican senators say this decision undermines their confidence and makes them feel misled by the justices.

This is a decades-long concerted effort by a minority of the country who opposes Roe. The public favors upholding Roe and legal abortion in all or some circumstances. Not even all Abrahamic religions agree with the contentious idea that “life starts at conception.”

Conservatives have focused outrage not on the decision but rather on the manner of protest and the leak that provided Politico with the draft. These are simply misdirections from the real news, which is that this is the first time the Supreme Court has removed an established right — in this case, a right that applies to half the country. Over time, the court has expanded the rights of citizens to be more inclusive. But America may be entering a more sinister, reactionary era.

Once again, moments that debilitated American democracy have reared their ugly heads. 

The public’s faith in the court was first subverted by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s refusal to grant confirmation hearings to President Obama’s nominee. That violation of norms allowed President Trump to install an extra justice upon his victory in 2016. Trump installed one-third of this court. All three justices are contributing to this opinion which nullifies Roe.

The Supreme Court’s role is to establish precedent, and yet in Bush v. Gore, the ruling makes clear their reasoning only applies to this specific context. Clearly, that set a terrible precedent for the court, because this lazy means to an end appears in Dobbs, where Alito says this reasoning only applies to abortion.

Except that it won’t. It isn’t unreasonable to expect the Supreme Court won’t target other privacy-based cases, such as Griswold (contraception), Obergefell and Lawrence (gay rights cases). Governor Greg Abbott announced the Texas GOP plans to challenge a 1981 ruling that granted the right of all children to an education (including migrant children).

Alito’s writing indicates any right not explicitly embedded in the Constitution must have been established through the country’s history and traditions. A self-fulfilling prophecy — a right cannot become part of the country’s history and traditions if the court prevents it. This will undermine the progress the country has made on equal rights.

Furthermore, it is no coincidence the draft declares its intent to “return this issue to the voters” in the midst of unprecedented voter suppression and that rights must be established in this country’s history in the midst of nationwide efforts to restrict which parts of American history are taught.

Conservatives have already argued overturning Roe is a victory for states’ rights. And yet, Mitch McConnell says pursuing a national ban on abortion is “possible.”

The moment the draft opinion, which is unlikely to change, is officially opined, it is likely 22 states will immediately place heavy restrictions on abortion. In preparation for a post-Roe America, at least three states have already proposed bans on IUDs, Plan B and other forms of contraception.

Although Roe is about much more than reproductive rights, the threat to a woman’s choice is enough to warrant nationwide outrage. Men must also speak out and defend a woman’s right to choose. Midterm elections are approaching.

 

Andrew is a senior in LAS.

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