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In a momentous decision last Friday, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) overturned the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that allowed abortion to be recognized as a constitutional right.
The Court was narrowly split 5-4 for the final vote when they upheld a Mississippi law that banned abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy (Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization). The opinion of the Court ends the recognition that the constitution affords any rights of protection for electing to terminate a pregnancy.
With this ruling, the authority is returned to the people and their elected representatives to decide regulations for abortion per state. It did not, however, make abortions illegal throughout the United States.
In fact, once the Court ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade, many states, including Kentucky, had trigger laws already enacted that would immediately make abortions illegal for doctors and others to perform unless it is medically necessary. It is anticipated that other states will soon rule on abortion regulations as well.
Justice Samuel Alito said in the majority opinion, “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
Alito opined that the constitution makes no reference to abortion and that no provisions exist within the constitution that implicitly protects any abortion rights.
While Roe v. Wade gave recognition that a woman was protected under the constitution to have the right to personal privacy in selecting to terminate her pregnancy, another Supreme Court ruling in 1992 (Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey) further established perceived abortion rights and prohibited laws across the nation that would impose burdens on access to abortion.
Alito also penned that abortion presents a profound moral question.
“The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion,” Alito said. “Roe and Casey arrogated that authority.”
Justice Clarence Thomas concurred the opinion and penned, “Because the Court properly applies our substantive due process precedents to reject fabrication of a constitutional right to abortion, and because this case does not present the opportunity to reject substantive due process entirely, I join the Court’s opinion.”
Thomas further said reconsideration of the Supreme Court’s substantive due process precedents should be reconsidered, specifically the Griswold and Obergefell cases, which protected the right to contraception and legalized same sex marriage, respectively. He opined that substantive due process conflicts with textual command, has been harmful to the nation “in many ways”, and should be eliminated from the court’s jurisprudence at the earliest opportunity.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh opined on the issue of abortion that the nine unelected members of the Supreme Court do not have the constitutional authority to override the democratic process and rule on abortion policy for all 330-million people in the nation.
“The Court’s decision to overrule Roe and Casey is a serious jolt to the legal system – regardless of how you view those cases,” Chief Justice John Roberts opined, who ruled with the majority.
The three liberal justices (Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor) issued a joint statement of dissent opining that the Court reversed course for only one reason: the change of composition of the Court, referring to the fact that SCOTUS is a conservative majority.
“With sorrow – for this Court, but more, for many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection – we dissent,” they penned.
The Nation’s Response
Abortion is very divisive issue for the United States, and protests have erupted across the nation with individuals voicing their opposition of the ruling, as well others erupting in celebratory cheer.
Some view the ruling as remedying a mistake that SCOTUS made when, in 1973, they made a law that circumvents both legislative and executive branches of the government.
In Phoenix, Arizona, police deployed tear gas after state lawmakers were forced to a secure room due to protesters descending outside the state’s Senate building. The Republican Caucus of the State Senate in Arizona termed the protest an attempted “insurrection.”
One protester in Washington D.C. scaled to the top of the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge and refuses to come down until he can no longer maintain himself physically.
In contrast, supporters of the SCOTUS ruling have gathered to celebrate around the country in various places.
Locally, some individuals took to our news social media pages to share their thoughts publicly on the ruling.
“My thoughts are that it’s disgusting that people cannot look past their religion and want to force it on everyone in the country despite being a country founded on religious freedom,” Natalie Harvey wrote, emphasizing women deserve the choice to terminate their pregnancies should conception be a result of rape or incest victims.
Glasgow native Dave Bunnell said that Friday was “one of the greatest days in American history, because the nation’s greatest evil of the last five decades has been undone.”
“We have worked and prayed hard for years in hopes this good day might come,” Bunnell wrote. “There is something quite misguided in the hearts of anyone who grieves at the fact that more babies will be allowed to live.”
Dee Anderson wrote, “My heart is full! Thousands of babies will now have life!”
Reshaping political battlegrounds
The recent ruling is anticipated to potentially reshape the battlegrounds for the 2022 November midterm elections and highlights the importance of casting votes now more than ever.
Kentucky is, in its majority, considered a pro-life state that doesn’t support abortions that are not medically necessary.
On Nov. 8, 2022, Kentuckians will have the opportunity to vote on constitutional amendment #2, which is the “Kentucky No Right to Abortion in Constitutional Amendment.”
Specifically, the ballot question will read:
“Are you in favor of amending the Constitution of Kentucky by creating a new Section of the Constitution to be numbered Section 26A to state as follows: To protect human life, nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion?”
A “yes” vote would mean that abortions are not considered protected under state law and that government funds are not required to pay for abortions. In contrast, a “no” vote, naturally, would oppose this stance.