The conservative-majority Supreme Court of the United States has officially overturned both Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, bringing an end to constitutional protections for abortions. Friday’s ruling means that the decision regarding abortion access will instead be left to individual states. Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett issued the majority opinion. Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan dissented.
In the final ruling, Justice Alito articulated the majority opinion that Roe, a 1973 decision establishing the right to abortion, and Casey, which reaffirmed that right in 1992, were incorrect. He wrote, “Roe and Casey must be overruled, and the authority to regulate abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives.”
The majority’s decision focused on three major points: that abortion is not specifically mentioned in the Constitution, that abortion is not a right covered by the Fourteenth Amendment, and that laws existed in early America and beforehand that prohibited abortion.
One of these early laws prohibiting abortion was passed in Wisconsin in 1849. Now, with the Supreme Court ruling, that law goes back into effect.
Earlier this week, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers attempted to address this issue by calling a special session of the state legislature in an effort to repeal the ban. Republicans responded by gaveling into session and immediately gaveling out – a process that took 14 seconds. Given the stranglehold that Wisconsin Republicans have on the state legislature, this outcome was predictable. Ultimately what resulted was a half-hearted attempt by Democrats (albeit at the local level) to take action on an issue they have chosen to ignore for far too long.
The dissenting opinion notes that the heavily right-wing Supreme Court enabled this ruling: “The Court reverses course today for one reason and one reason only: because the composition of this Court has changed.” Indeed, today’s ruling would likely not have been possible if former President Trump and his Republican coterie had not successfully installed three far-right justices on the Supreme Court bench. However, Democrats have long known about the relentless, decades-long attack on abortion access rights. They have had ample opportunity to codify Roe v. Wade into law but failed to do so.
Having control over one’s reproductive system should be considered a fundamental aspect of personal liberty. Today, the Supreme Court has ruled that it is not. How many more rights will Republicans attempt to rescind for certain groups while Democrats stand by and claim there is nothing to do about it but “vote blue?”
The 14th Amendment has been used to offer protections to women seeking abortions, same-sex relationships, marriage equality, and contraception. Today’s Supreme Court reversal of Roe v. Wade leaves the door open to remove protections created by Obergefell v. Hodges, Lawrence v. Texas, and Griswold v. Connecticut.
Roe v. Wade was a decided precedent that helped establish laws across the country for decades. It legalized abortions in the United States, allowing pregnant individuals to access essential healthcare that they desperately needed. It eliminated back-room botched abortions and offered people safe and affordable options to control their own bodies.
The Green Party has continuously supported full bodily autonomy. If the Green Party was currently the majority party in the United States, Roe v. Wade would have been codified into law ensuring that no unelected judges could turn a historical precedent into a political agenda. And the conservative majority on the Supreme Court is just getting started.
Justice Thomas has issued an opinion that could fundamentally alter the way same-sex relationships and marriages, along with contraception, are viewed in the courts. He is adding fuel to right-wing zealotry by writing that justices “should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell.” Perhaps more alarmingly, he asserts in his opinion that, ”we have a duty to “correct the error” established in those precedents.”
The dissenters noted this agenda to challenge additional rights, and disagreed with it. They wrote, “Roe and Casey fit neatly into a long line of decisions protecting from government intrusion a wealth of private choices about family matters, child rearing, intimate relationships, and procreation.” Additionally, they noted that "the freedom in these “most intimate and personal” choices people make “reflect fundamental aspects of personal identity.” As such, they rightfully contend that “those choices belong to the individual, and not the government. That is the essence of what liberty requires.”
The Wisconsin Green Party recognizes that abortion is healthcare. Abortion is a right that all citizens should be able to utilize. Most importantly, abortion is not for the male majority in Congress, on the Supreme Court, or in our state legislatures to decide. It is a deeply personal choice each person considering one must make.
Abortion is not a midterm political point, it is a solemn and individual choice.
Roe v. Wade was decided in the context of a vital social movement for human rights. Over the last 50 years, people in Wisconsin and elsewhere have defended abortion clinics against right-wing attacks against patients and doctors, and fought for the right to choose. Democrats say that voting for them is the only way to win these rights, and that "abortion is on the ballot" this fall. We stand with these movements, and intend to earn their votes.