Roe v. Wade in doubt after Supreme Court oral arguments


Photo courtesy of Andrew Harnik

Both pro-abortion and anti-abortion protestors gathered outside the Supreme Court on Dec. 1. while justices listened to oral arguments on Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban.

You do not need to pick up a history book to know that women have been treated as second class citizens in the United States since its founding. Constantly undervalued and underappreciated, women in America have had to fight for basic freedoms on a continual basis since our Founding Fathers declared that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were rights only guaranteed to men. 

Women were not given the right to vote until the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920. They were also not granted autonomy over their bodies and reproductive choices until the landmark case Roe v. Wade was brought before the Supreme Court in 1973. 

The outcome of Roe v. Wade saw the Supreme Court declare that access to legal and safe abortions was a constitutional right. Despite the controversial ruling, the court’s decision has protected women’s rights to self-determination for almost 50 years. 

These inherent rights are now in doubt after a shameful display from the conservative controlled Supreme Court on Dec. 1. 

After listening to oral arguments concerning the Mississippi law that would prevent abortions after 15 weeks, the court seemed to signal that they would side with Mississippi. This implication violates the essential guidelines of Roe. It would also set a dangerous precedent that would essentially render Roe ineffective if the court allows states to dictate abortion laws. 

Many states including Michigan have already drafted harsh abortion restriction legislation and are waiting for a signal from the Supreme Court to implement these unjust constraints.

The implication of ruling in favor of Mississippi was only the beginning of the enraging discourse of the day. 

Willfully ignoring almost a half century of precedent to play politics, Justices Thomas, Kavanaugh and Alito appeared to take things a step further and suggested overturning Roe completely. It is a violation that three partisan puppets in robes who do not possess ovaries are able to discuss overturning this ruling so flippantly. It is also hard not to see the irony of these men debating an individual’s right to choose when two of the three justices were accused of sexual assault. 

Justice Sotomayor summarized this situation perfectly in her remarks when she said, “Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts? I don’t see how it is possible.” Justice Sotomayor is right. The fact that the highest court in the land is determined to reverse progress is a disgrace. 

There are still so many unanswered questions as of now. If the justices attempt to turn back time and rule against themselves, what would that decision suggest about the legitimacy of the Supreme Court? Is America ready to come to terms with the fact a supposedly non-partisan branch of government has suddenly become a political body?

We will not know the outcome of the Mississippi case until June of 2022. However, all signs seem to suggest reproductive rights are in danger again in America. Overturning Roe will not end abortions — it will only end access to safe ones.