24 Jun 2022 Devastating Supreme Court Decision Strips Women of the Right to Choose
The Supreme Court today released a devastating abortion decision that will negatively impact millions of people and families across America. The Supreme Court's decision in the case challenging Mississippi’s abortion ban, Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, puts the lives of our sisters, daughters, nieces, granddaughters, friends, and colleagues at risk. It sends a strong message that women are not worthy of equal rights.
While we are still analyzing the decision, our initial read is that this is a disaster for people who can become pregnant. By allowing states to limit the ability of medical professionals to provide safe abortion options and care, this decision puts pregnant people at tremendous risk. People seeking to end a pregnancy will still be able to find a way to do it; it just might put their life at unnecessary risk to do so.
To be clear: people will die as a result of this decision, just as they did in the days before the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision confirming American women’s right to control their own bodies. It is both unacceptable and unbelievable that we find ourselves going back to those times.
For the past half-century, this was the promise to women in the United States:
- Women have the right to decide when and whether to become mothers.
- Women can choose to finish school, move up in a career, and have a family when ready.
- Women can follow their dreams wherever they lead.
- And women have the freedom to make their own decisions about their bodies, their own health care, and their own futures.
But with today’s Supreme Court decision, the government and politicians will now be allowed to make the most personal decisions about women’s bodies and pregnancies for them.
Today’s generation will be the first one in 50 years that has lost the right to determine their own futures.
As we reported earlier when the contents of today’s decision were leaked in May, the ruling declares that the United States Constitution does not provide a protected right to abortion, Roe v. Wade is overturned, and that if any such right to an abortion is to be provided under the law, it should be provided by the legislature (state and/or federal).
How will making abortion illegal impact in vitro fertilization?
But even though today’s decision is focused on women’s right to abortion, it will have a far more extensive impact on American women and families. Conservative politicians are already threatening to outlaw forms of birth control that disrupt conception, such as IUDs. There are states that will, without a doubt, enact laws to criminalize all abortion and attempt to go even further, in some cases enacting laws that give the unborn embryo full legal rights as a person.
There is concern that today’s decision will impact IVF and assisted reproduction, due to the fact that the procedures often produce more embryos that can be used. While it remains to be seen how the battlefield will unfold on this, fertilizing an egg which then develops into an embryo does not automatically guarantee a pregnancy will result. Therefore, we do not anticipate a wholesale expansion of today’s ruling into assisted reproduction, but we must remain vigilant and protect procreative and reproductive freedom in order to ensure access to assisted reproduction remains an option for those who seek it.
There are other parts of the Supreme Court’s ruling that give cause for grave concern—especially in Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion. (Justice Thomas would do away with the entire doctrine of "substantive due process" and overrule Griswold, Lawrence and Obergefell as soon as possible. See pages 118-119 of the 213-page opinion.) The rights we have today will continue to be attacked unless conservative lawmakers are stopped.
Vote to Protect Reproductive Rights
Gaining political power is the only way to meet this challenge. If the Supreme Court is going to leave it up to the legislatures to decide who has control over a woman’s body, then we MUST elect legislators and governors who believe in a woman’s right to choose her own destiny (and who believe in protecting other key civil liberties, such as the right to marriage).
It will take unprecedented political activism to restore what is right.
From a legal perspective, stripping anyone of their rights to control their own body goes against the personal freedom, dignity, and self-determination that our Constitution is supposed to protect, and has protected for decades under Roe. IFLG is part of the broad movement that demands respect for reproductive autonomy, safe medical options for people exercising their reproductive alternatives, and an end to the politicization of healthcare.
For now, there are still many states where abortion is allowed, and there is still a constitutional right to travel to seek abortion care in other states where it is permissible—despites threats on the Right to prosecute those who do so. Two older cases that discuss the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution and an individual’s right to travel are: Shapiro v. Thompson, 394 U.S. 618 (1969) and U.S. v. Guest, 383 U.S. 745 (1966). Here is a link to a short Cornell Law School article about the right to travel. Related to this is a pre-Roe decision about an abortion clinic in one state advertising in Virginia where abortions were not allowed. The Supreme Court ruled on this in Bigelow v. Virginia, 421 U.S. 809, 95 S.Ct. 2222 (1975). That case not only allowed the advertisements, under the concept of freedom of speech, but made it clear that one state cannot regulate that which is permitted in another state.
We at IFLG are angry, disappointed, and deeply concerned about today’s decision—especially by the reasoning used by justices who seem determined to restrict essential constitutional rights to those originally enjoyed only by those in power, in the scheme of perpetuating the “history and traditions” of the Eighteenth Century.
We will be in touch soon with further analysis of the disturbing implications of this ruling.
The IFLG Team