/  06.27.2022

As the United States remains an authority among nations with the highest COVID-19 rates and navigates a continued economic downturn, the world is watching Americans question whether or not women have a federal constitutional right to receive an abortion. On Friday (June 24), the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) overturned Roe v. Wade. The 1973 legal case limited excessive health care restrictions against women’s bodily autonomy and their right to discern if getting an abortion was in their best interest.

As per a Britannica summary, “In a majority opinion written by Justice Harry A. Blackmun, the Court held that a set of Texas statutes criminalizing abortion in most instances violated a woman’s constitutional right of privacy, which it found to be implicit in the liberty guarantee of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (‘… nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law’).” Those in favor of this recent nine-justice vote were presumably aided by the three right-wing appointees of former President Donald Trump. For some liberals, the five-to-four ruling which overturned Roe v. Wade has practically eliminated nearly five decades of precedent. 

According to the “Current Members” section’s specified terms on the Supreme Court’s website, John G. Roberts, Jr. (2005) is the chief justice of the United States, while the associate justice seats are held by Clarence Thomas (1991), Stephen G. Breyer (1994), Samuel A. Alito, Jr. (2006), Sonia Sotomayor (2009), Elena Kagan (2010), Neil M. Gorsuch (2017), Brett M. Kavanaugh (2018), and Amy Coney Barrett (2020). Each counted term brought political gain. The announcement of additional prohibitions by SCOTUS’ majority arrived after progress toward women’s inclusion was believed to have been established — through the Senate confirming Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as the 116th justice of the Supreme Court earlier this year. 

It is anticipated that the Supreme Court’s recess will begin at the end of the month following Justice Breyer’s retirement announcement and solidifying his departure. He, Justice Sotomayor, and Justice Kagan voted to uphold Roe v. Wade. Chief Justice Roberts, Jr. wrote a concurring opinion that “he would not have overturned Roe [v. Wade] but instead would have only [upheld] Mississippi’s law banning abortions after 15 weeks,” verified CNN. Justices Thomas, Alito, Jr., Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett voted to overturn the ruling that made abortion legal. Nina Totenberg, the dean of Supreme Court reporters, weighed in on what this potentially means for the land of the free: “‘It’s the legal equivalent of a nuclear bomb … [and] undoing other areas of personal autonomy,’ from contraception to interracial marriage,” noted NPR. 

Claim: Is abortion now illegal in the United States?

Rating: False. The Supreme Court has authorized states to determine how to regulate or outlaw abortion moving forward.

Roughly half of the nation had contingencies in place ahead of the Supreme Court finalizing its decision last week. “22 states have laws or constitutional amendments … [making] them certain to attempt to ban abortion as quickly as possible. Anti-abortion policymakers in several of these states have also indicated that they will introduce legislation modeled after the Texas six-week abortion ban,” published the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights advocacy group. Again, states are now free to outlaw abortion. Last month, The New York Times printed, “The Supreme Court heard arguments on a Mississippi law that is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, setting the stage for what could be the most consequential abortion rights ruling in decades … a majority of the justices in February privately voted to strike down the landmark case.” The high court also ruled six-to-three to uphold the restrictive Mississippi law.

Several U.S. representatives, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), have voiced their disapproval of Roe v. Wade being overturned. During a “Meet the Press” interview, AOC said she feels impeachment is a possibility for the Supreme Court justices (Justice Kavanaugh and Justice Gorsuch) who, in her perspective, lied under oath by misleading our Senate during their confirmation hearings about whether or not they supported overturning Roe v. Wade:

“What I believe that the president and the Democratic Party need to come to terms with is that this is not just a crisis of Roe [v. Wade], this is a crisis of our democracy … If we allow Supreme Court nominees to lie under oath and secure lifetime appointments to the highest court of the land and then issue — without basis, if you read these opinions — rulings that deeply undermine the human and civil rights of the majority of Americans, we must see that through.”

Protests in celebration of and against the anti-choice movement have sparked nationwide. “I am heartbroken that we may now be destined to learn the painful lessons of a time before Roe [v. Wade] was made law of the land — a time when women risked losing their lives getting illegal abortions,” shared former First Lady Michelle Obama the morning of the SCOTUS announcement (June 24) in a public statement with clinical directives via Twitter. On Saturday (June 25), President Biden tweeted, “The cruel truth is that overturning Roe [v. Wade] will hit poor women and girls the hardest.” The decision will also affect the territories the United States regulates, including Puerto Rico. “Like in the United States, where abortion rights are under attack … violence against abortion providers, activists, and patients is on the rise in Puerto Rico … Leaders in the reproductive justice movement believe that anti-choicers are becoming empowered by the political wins … and have become more active and callous in their crusade,” confirmed Refinery29.

Black women and other women of color are the most at-risk for lack of access to medical resources affecting unintended pregnancies. “Among those ages 15 to 44, there were 23.8 abortions per 1,000 non-[Latinx] Black women; 11.7 abortions per 1,000 [Latinas]; 6.6 abortions per 1,000 non-[Latinx] white women; and 13 abortions per 1,000 women of other races or ethnicities in that age range,” registered the Pew Research Center from a 2019 CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. State-by-state legislature indicates that women, largely outside of blue states, will no longer be able to exercise control over their bodies. CNBC’s recent breakdown logged that Justice Thomas doubled down on his conservative vote and suggested that “gay rights and contraception rights should be reconsidered now that the federal right to abortion has been revoked. [He added each] ‘were demonstrably erroneous decisions.'”

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