The inevitability of the end of Roe and how long a fight we’re in for.
It was inevitable. Those are the first three words of one of the most notable openings in literature from Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez. The same three words would make a decent opening to any article on the leaked draft that indicates the Supreme Court is about to overturn Roe v Wade. It was inevitable because that’s precisely what this Court was designed to do. While, until recently, the majority of Americans assumed the fight for choice was over, another group of Americans have been working for decades to remake the courts in their image; and with the help of the Federalist Society’s unwavering focus, Mitch McConnell’s nomination blockades and Donald Trump’s transactional nature, they’ve achieved the goal. Several of today’s justices were “shepherded toward nomination and confirmation with the support of the conservative Federalist Society and its influential vice president, Leonard Leo. It was Leo’s list of potential justices that Trump drew from time and again during his presidency. ‘No one has been more dedicated to the enterprise of building a Supreme Court that will overturn Roe v. Wade than the Federalist Society’s Leonard Leo’ …The idea that any of Leo’s picks for the Supreme Court would be averse to decimating, if not eliminating, abortion rights has always been delusional.” Politico with the leaked draft: Supreme Court has voted to overturn abortion rights, draft opinion shows. One of the lessons of this decision, and of many other instances of America’s backtracking on rights and norms you thought were long settled is that, in a democracy like ours, the fight is never over. It’s an ongoing journey. We opened this paragraph with the first line of Love in the Time of Cholera. Let’s close it with the last line, as it also applies to the fight for the America most of us want: “‘And how long do you think we can keep up this goddamn coming and going?’ he asked. Florentino Ariza had kept his answer ready for fifty-three years, seven months, and eleven days and nights. ‘Forever,’ he said.”
Let’s assume the draft holds, or at least that we’ll get to this point in the very near future. What’s next? Abortion will be illegal immediately in 13 states, and soon thereafter, it will become illegal in about half of American states. Like in the pre-Roe days, this burden will be felt primarily by the poor (the wealthy can travel for medical procedures). This will be the new state of affairs, regardless of the fact that a majority of Americans are pro-choice and that there is not a single state where support for a federal ban on abortion has more than 30% support. That’s one bit of today’s news that can be exploited by Democrats. What was a legal issue just became a get out the vote issue.
Removing the right to abortions would not only put America at odds with its own population, it would also go against a very clear international move towards choice. America “will instead join a small cadre of increasingly authoritarian countries that have become more restrictive on abortion in recent years,” such as Hungary, Poland, and Brazil. Mary Fitzgerald in the NYT: The World Is Lifting Abortion Restrictions. Why Is the U.S. Moving Against the Tide? (If the tide is towards a more liberal democracy, the U.S. is caught in the undertow.)
For many women, the Court’s ruling won’t necessarily change much. This is just the latest clampdown on women’s rights. “For many Americans, Roe already feels meaningless. Nearly 90 percent of U.S. counties lack a clinic that offers abortions.” Jessica Bruder in The Atlantic: The Future of Abortion in a Post-Roe America. Critically, the suppression of rights is unlikely to stop with abortion. “The implications for the law of overruling Roe will be enormous. Justice Alito’s draft opinion for the Court says that Roe was ‘egregiously wrong’ because it protects a right that was not included in the text of the Constitution, was not protected by the original meaning of the Constitution, and was not traditionally safeguarded as a constitutional right. But by that reasoning, countless other Supreme Court decisions protecting basic aspects of privacy and autonomy were wrongly decided as well.” Time: The Enormous Consequences of Overruling Roe v. Wade.
+ The other big part of this story is the leak. The original Roe v. Wade ruling was leaked, too. But not like this. In fact, nothing in the Court has really been leaked quite like this. Slate’sJeremy Stahl with some theories on who Leaked Samuel Alito’s draft opinion striking down Roe v. Wade — and why? (Prediction: We’ll know who leaked it by the end of the week.)
- “Collins discovered she may have been sold a bill of goods by the man who “likes beer,” as well as Justice Neil Gorsuch, another Trump appointee who claimed he would protect Roe at all costs.” ‘Completely Inconsistent’: Susan Collins Seems Shocked Kavanaugh Might’ve Lied to Her. (I’m ending with Collins’ reaction because they say laughter is the best medicine.)