NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, June 24th, 2022

Alito court overturns Roe v. Wade, allowing states to criminalize reproductive rights

An extrem­ist, far-right wing bloc on the Unit­ed States Supreme Court today over­turned one of the most impor­tant legal hold­ings in U.S. his­to­ry, decree­ing that Amer­i­cans lack the free­dom to make their own repro­duc­tive health­care deci­sions and that states can crim­i­nal­ize abor­tion care.

Authored by Samuel Ali­to, the major­i­ty opin­ion over­turn­ing Roe and Planned Par­ent­hood v. Casey was joined by Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gor­such, and Amy Coney Bar­rett, Don­ald Trump’s appointees. Clarence Thomas and John Roberts filed con­cur­ring opin­ions, with Thomas mak­ing it clear he’d like to see oth­er prece­dents, like Oberge­fell, over­turned next. Sonia Sotomay­or, Stephen Brey­er, and Ele­na Kagan (the remain­ing lib­er­al jus­tices) all dissented.

A draft opin­ion also authored by Ali­to leaked out of the Supreme Court sev­er­al weeks ago and was pub­lished by Politi­co, fore­shad­ow­ing today’s decision. 

The Con­sti­tu­tion does not pro­hib­it the cit­i­zens of each State from reg­u­lat­ing or pro­hibiting abor­tion,” Ali­to asserts in the con­clud­ing pas­sage of his opin­ion’s syl­labus.Roe and Casey arro­gat­ed that author­i­ty. The Court over­rules those deci­sions and returns that author­i­ty to the peo­ple and their elect­ed representatives.”

“The major­i­ty tries to hide the geo­graph­i­cal­ly expan­sive effects of its hold­ing,” Sotomay­or, Brey­er, and Kagan said in reply.

“Today’s deci­sion, the major­i­ty says, per­mits ‘each State’ to address abor­tion as it pleas­es. That is cold com­fort, of course, for the poor woman who can­not get the mon­ey to fly to a dis­tant State for a pro­ce­dure. Above all oth­ers, women lack­ing finan­cial resources will suf­fer from today’s decision.”

“In any event, inter­state restric­tions will also soon be in the off­ing. After this deci­sion, some States may block women from trav­el­ing out of State to obtain abor­tions, or even from receiv­ing abor­tion med­ica­tions from out of State.”

“Some may crim­i­nal­ize efforts, includ­ing the pro­vi­sion of infor­ma­tion or fund­ing, to help women gain access to oth­er States’ abor­tion services.”

“Most threat­en­ing of all, no lan­guage in today’s deci­sion stops the Fed­er­al Gov­ern­ment from pro­hibit­ing abor­tions nation­wide, once again from the moment of con­cep­tion and with­out excep­tions for rape or incest. If that hap­pens, ‘the views of [an indi­vid­ual State’s] cit­i­zens’ will not matter.”

“It’s a sad day for the court and the coun­try,” Pres­i­dent Joe Biden said in remarks at the White House after the deci­sion was released on the Supreme Court’s web­site. “I believe Roe v. Wade was the cor­rect deci­sion as a mat­ter of con­sti­tu­tion­al law and appli­ca­tion of a fun­da­men­tal right to pri­va­cy and lib­er­ty in mat­ters of fam­i­ly and per­son­al autonomy.”

But after near­ly fifty years, Roe is gone. It’s the first time in at least the mod­ern his­to­ry of the Unit­ed States that a major right pre­vi­ous­ly rec­og­nized and pro­tect­ed by the Court has been tak­en away. And the Court’s right wing bloc clear­ly intends to go much fur­ther and over­turn more prece­dents in the months and years to come. Clarence Thomas is gid­dy: he can hard­ly wait.

“Today’s Supreme Court deci­sion is the cul­mi­na­tion of a coor­di­nat­ed Repub­li­can effort to roll back repro­duc­tive rights,” said Demo­c­ra­t­ic lead­ers in a joint state­ment, includ­ing DNC Chair Jaime Harrison.

“The 2022 elec­tion will now deter­mine whether new, cru­el, and pun­ish­ing restric­tions will be imposed on women and families.”

“With Repub­li­cans in pow­er, states could make abor­tion ille­gal with­out excep­tions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother.”

“Women and doc­tors could be charged crim­i­nal­ly. Oth­er pre­vi­ous­ly set­tled rights, like the right to con­tra­cep­tion and mar­riage equal­i­ty, could be threatened.”

“The Amer­i­can peo­ple don’t want any of this.”

Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi echoed those sen­ti­ments, declar­ing: “This cru­el rul­ing is out­ra­geous and heart-wrench­ing. But make no mis­take: the rights of women and all Amer­i­cans are on the bal­lot this November.”

“This is a sad and trag­ic day in Amer­i­ca,” said Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell.

“Mil­lions of Amer­i­cans are los­ing their rights to con­trol their own bod­ies and their own health­care. Despite decades of Repub­li­can Supreme Court nom­i­nees com­ing before the Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee and say­ing that they believe Roe v. Wade is set­tled law, they have tak­en a sledge­ham­mer to the right to privacy.”

“Today, Repub­li­cans dragged this coun­try back­wards by half a cen­tu­ry,” said Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray. “Repub­li­cans ripped away our rights and made this gen­er­a­tion the first gen­er­a­tion of Amer­i­can women with few­er rights than their moth­ers. Repub­li­cans are forc­ing women to stay preg­nant and give birth when they don’t want to — no mat­ter the cir­cum­stances. Repub­li­cans are even pass­ing laws to jail women who get abor­tions and the doc­tors who pro­vide them.”

“And right here in the Sen­ate, it was Repub­li­cans who stacked our Supreme Court with anti-abor­tion jus­tices, who blocked Democ­rats’ efforts to pro­tect abor­tion rights, and who right now are push­ing for a fed­er­al abor­tion ban.”

“We knew this deci­sion was com­ing, but that does­n’t make it any less hor­ri­fy­ing,” said Sen­a­tor Ron Wyden.

“The Court has betrayed and defied the Amer­i­can peo­ple, who are right­ful­ly ter­ri­fied that the most pow­er­ful peo­ple in the coun­try are clear­ly eager to vio­late their pri­va­cy and the basic human right to con­trol their own bodies.”

“When you have to make the most inti­mate, per­son­al deci­sions that will impact your life and your health and body, I don’t know any­one who wants some politi­cian in the room,” said Sen­a­tor Jeff Merkley.

“Yet, that is exact­ly the impact of this Supreme Court opin­ion for mil­lions and mil­lions of Amer­i­cans, who sud­den­ly find an over­bear­ing gov­ern­ment dic­tat­ing their path. This assault on Amer­i­cans’ rights and free­dom is shocking.”

“After today, we will see the very real and dan­ger­ous con­se­quences across the coun­try of tak­ing away the right to safe and legal abor­tions. It’s on all of us – Mem­bers of Con­gress, med­ical pro­fes­sion­als, advo­cates, and vot­ers – to stand up against this night­mare vision of peo­ple forced to car­ry preg­nan­cies to term against their will.  Each one of us should have the free­dom to live our lives with­out politi­cians forc­ing their way into our bed­rooms and exam rooms.”

Abor­tion remains legal in Wash­ing­ton and Ore­gon… for now.

Ida­ho, mean­while, already has a law in place set to go into effect crim­i­nal­iz­ing the exer­cise of repro­duc­tive rights. Ida­hoans will need to trav­el to Wash­ing­ton or Ore­gon in the months and years to come obtain abor­tion care through a clinic.

As not­ed by Speak­er Pelosi, Sen­a­tor Mur­ray, and oth­ers in their state­ments today, Repub­li­cans like Mike Pence are open­ly push­ing for a nation­wide ban on abor­tion and will not be con­tent with the Supreme Court’s action today.

This isn’t about allow­ing states to make their own laws. It’s the first step in cre­at­ing a dystopi­an future where nobody has the right to make their own repro­duc­tive deci­sions. It is no exag­ger­a­tion to say that extrem­ist Repub­li­cans want con­trol over the uterus of every Amer­i­can capa­ble of bear­ing a child. They’ll keep push­ing for­ward until they get what they want… unless they’re stopped.

We at the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute are com­mit­ted to stop­ping that hor­rif­ic future and revers­ing the harm­ful actions of the Ali­to court. We agree with George Lakoff and oth­er thinkers that free­dom does­n’t stand still. If we do not expand free­dom, it will be con­tract­ed by rad­i­cal right wingers, as we saw today.

It is up to us — all of us — who believe in the right to pri­va­cy, the right to bod­i­ly auton­o­my, and the right to freely choose when and whether to repro­duce to work togeth­er to estab­lish explic­it con­sti­tu­tion­al pro­tec­tions for these rights. That won’t be achiev­able overnight, but it’s a long term goal we must com­mit our­selves to. And in the short term, we must expand the Supreme Court to end the dark era to right wing judi­cial activism that is threat­en­ing the future of our country.

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3 Pings

  1. […] « Ali­to court over­turns Roe v. Wade, allow­ing states to crim­i­nal­ize repro­duc­tive rights […]

  2. […] Cat Williams to NPI’s Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate to dis­cuss the Supreme Court’s hor­rif­ic Dobbs deci­sion, which was pub­lished last Fri­day. Cat holds a J.D. from Berke­ley Law and is a […]

  3. […] con­tra­cep­tion mea­sure was one of four bills inspired by the U.S. Supreme Court rul­ing that over­turned Roe v. Wade and took away Amer­i­cans’ right to access repro­duc­tive health­care through­out the […]

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