This will end badly.
That’s not an unreasonable opinion to have after Politico released a draft version of the Supreme Court’s intention of overturning Roe v Wade, a 1973 decision that made abortion legal during the first trimester of a woman’s pregnancy.
That decision, made 49 years ago, was made by honorable judges in the days when they didn’t cleave to the political party that installed them into the court but made decisions free from politics.
The 7-2 Roe vote included the assent of five Republican-appointed judges, whereas the current draft to overturn Roe is supported by Trump’s three appointees and likely enthusiasts Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, none of whom are likely to join the pantheon of great Supreme Court justices that includes Oliver Wendell Holmes, Thurgood Marshall and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The key issue in the 1973 case was whether the 14th Amendment applied to a woman’s right to have an abortion. While the subject doesn’t explicitly appear in the Constitution, the 14th Amendment was enacted to protect the right to privacy against state action, and it was deemed by the court that a woman’s right to choose falls within that right, and any state law that broadly prohibits abortion violates that right.
In the intervening near half-century, Roe v Wade has been a source of bitter and angry debate involving ethics, biology, constitutional law and, of course, religion.
The law, though, has withstood attempts to overturn it for decades.
Until recently—say, around the time Donald Trump took office—changes in the law and in the Constitution have tended to steadily broaden people’s liberties, rather than restrict them. We’ve already witnessed the Republicans’ relentless attacks on voting rights and now comes the disturbing news of the Supreme Court’s intentions to dismantle women’s rights to have the supreme say over their own bodies without government interference.
We should have seen it coming: Trump proudly promised that if elected he would pack the court with judges who would dispense with Roe.
Even so, the impending decision to do so is a depressing, enraging and stupefying setback, driven largely by the south and their fundamentalist voters and officeholders.
What’s more, it won’t end abortions anywhere, but will instead force women to do what they too often did before Roe: visit the neighborhood barber for the procedure, revert to DIY coat-hanger techniques, or throw themselves down stairs.
This wanton dismissal of women’s fundamental rights will result in unwanted births, disposals of infants, and other horrors that we don’t want to think about.
It could have been prevented with a more thoughtful and intelligent electorate. You have to think of the future when you vote for a president, because the decisions made during the victors’ administration extend long beyond their term in office, especially when they have the power to appoint not only lifetime Supreme Court justices but legions of lower-court judges who determine what is right and wrong with the current laws.
The current ruling of Roe v Wade is the right one. Overturning will be profoundly and disturbingly wrong.