A big step backward

The Supreme Court has made a mistake.

With its decision to reverse the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling on Friday, the court’s conservative bloc has effectively stripped away the rights of millions of people to a safe abortion. More than 20 states across the country, some of which have attempted to challenge abortion rights for years, are now poised to either restrict or ban access to abortions entirely in light of the majority decision out of this nation’s highest court.

We believe the dissenting justices — Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — said it best in their dissenting opinion: “In overruling Roe and Casey, this Court betrays its guiding principles.”

Friday’s decision is a blow to the credibility of the Supreme Court and will undoubtedly have some Americans wondering if the days of true judicial impartiality are coming to an end.

The late Constitutional scholar Paul Freund once said that the Supreme Court “should never be influenced by the weather of the day, but inevitably, they will be influenced by the climate of the era.”

According to the Pew Research Center, public support for legal abortion has remained “relatively stable” over the past two decades, with 61% of U.S. adults saying they believe it should be legal in all or most cases, compared to 37% who say it should be illegal in all or most cases, as of the most recent polling this year. To us, the majority of Americans supporting some degree of abortion access over the past two decades sounds more like “the climate of the era” than the “weather of the day.”

The majority, in an opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito, say that “the Constitution makes no reference to abortion,” and that the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment has been used to guarantee some rights not mentioned, but “any such right must be ‘deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition’ and ‘implicit in the concept of ordered liberty.'” Alito then writes that abortion is not either of those things.

This raises the question: What, then, will become of other rights protected under similar arguments as Roe v. Wade, like the right of same sex couples to be married?

Again, the dissenting justices say it best: “The same could be said … of most of the rights the majority claims it is not tampering with … Either the majority does not really believe in its own reasoning. Or if it does, all rights that have no history stretching back to the mid-19th century are insecure.”

The people who will be disproportionately affected by this ruling, according to the Associated Press, will likely be minority women and women in poverty, who already face plenty of challenges when seeking health care.

But some may ask: What of the estimated 930,160 fetuses aborted in 2020 alone, according to Guttmacher? And of the many, many more in years past? In light of that, did the Supreme Court really make a mistake? We believe those are legitimate questions to ask, and among the many reasons why this issue isn’t so simple. But to that point, we would add: In light of the court’s decision, how will we support women in crisis moving forward and how will we ensure that all of the children born will have access to a safe, loving environment in which to grow up in?

In New York state, the protections afforded by Roe v. Wade are already codified into state law. Congress should do the same. And when it comes time to vote, the voters of this country will have to decide what a “post-Roe” future will look like.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.75/week.

Subscribe Today