June 27, 2022

Roe Overturned

The Supreme Court on Friday eliminated the constitutional right to obtain an abortion, casting aside 49 years of precedent that began with Roe v. Wade… In one of the most anticipated rulings in decades, the court overturned Roe, which first declared a constitutional right to abortion in 1973, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which re-affirmed that right in 1992.” SCOTUSblog

Here’s our prior coverage of the case. The Flip Side

See past issues

From the Left

The left opposes the decision, arguing that it will harm women.

“A Gallup poll released Thursday shows that the number of Americans who have a ‘great deal’ or ‘quite a lot’ of confidence in the court has dropped 11 points from 36% to 25% in a year. Polls confirm that more than 6 in 10 Americans wanted Roe to stay… [The court has abandoned] stare decisis – the core judicial principle of reverence for precedent. It is vital to stability in law and society. In his concurrence that resembles a dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledges Friday's decision as ‘a serious jolt to the legal system.’…

“There’s also the conservative jurisprudential principle that Justice Louis Brandeis helped establish in the 1930s: Courts should decide only the narrow question presented to them, not reach out to resolve broader social issues. Roberts’ concurrence emphasizes that all the Supreme Court had before it was Mississippi’s 15-week ceiling on abortion rights. That ceiling, and no more, he writes, is what the court should have upheld ‘out of adherence to a simple yet fundamental principle of judicial restraint.’…

“Violating established judicial precepts points to a majority ready to sacrifice principle to serve an ideological agenda. This Supreme Court is moving to destroy not only rights, but also itself.”

Dennis Aftergut, USA Today

Now “Laws written by ideologues with no medical training, who invent imaginary procedures to dispel concerns about the hazards to women’s health, will determine how quickly a potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy can be treated. Coroners will paw through sewage to assess fetal remains from miscarriages. Women with wanted pregnancies will learn they are gestating a fetus with a critical anomaly and, months later, labor under coercion for hours, only to push out an infant without the necessary body parts to survive…  

“There will be untreated infections; life-threatening spikes in blood pressure; bodies obliged to carry high-risk triplets instead of twins; and dangerous, desperate attempts at self-induced abortion. In Texas, where abortions became illegal after around six weeks of pregnancy last September, pharmacists are already refusing to dispense drugs prescribed for ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages…

“Multiple doctors in the state have told me about pregnant women whose water broke too early, weeks before their fetuses could survive outside their bodies. Normally, doctors would induce a miscarriage, since the pregnancy cannot be recovered. These days, they can’t provide that standard care in Texas without chancing expensive lawsuits. Instead, in each case I’ve heard about, doctors waited until the woman developed an infection—a great enough risk to her life to provide legal cover for a medically necessary abortion.”

Christina Cauterucci, Slate

“The combination of a more extremist opposition to legal abortion, the carceral mentality that has dominated American criminal law since the mid-1960s, and increased surveillance technology available to authorities will mean far more frequent and intrusive coercion being used against people trying to terminate pregnancies, as well as using the full force of the law against abortion doctors. There will be more investigations, more arrests, and more convictions…

The post-Roe world, in short, will not be one of stability and civil compromises. It will be a world of chaos and terror and escalating legal and political hardball. Republican-controlled states will, at the urging of anti–abortion rights groups, engage in constant one-upmanship: passing bans, narrowing exceptions, trying to prevent women from seeking medical care in other states, even banning contraceptives like Plan B and IUDs…

“Women in red states going through the trauma of a miscarriage will have to worry about facing a hostile investigation and possibly arrest. The next Republican trifecta at the national level will try to pass some kind of nationwide abortion ban and may well succeed.”

Scott Lemieux, American Prospect

From the Right

The right supports the decision, arguing that it properly returns abortion policy to the democratic process.

The right supports the decision, arguing that it properly returns abortion policy to the democratic process.

“Roe was a legal mistake that played a large role in driving our national politics crazy. Now the democratic process gets to decide what happens to abortion. Before Roe, nearly every state in the Union banned or restricted abortion, but the trend was toward allowing abortion in more situations. That trend, here and abroad, tracked the liberalizing of divorce laws and other features of the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. Roe stopped all that in its tracks, high-handedly sweeping off the books the laws of nearly every state at once…

“No matter how you feel about abortion, this should be welcomed as a healthy development for American democracy and for the rule of written law made by the people’s representatives…

“All the energy that usually goes into politics and lawmaking in Congress and state legislatures was forced into an all-or-nothing national battle for the Supreme Court that lasted decades. When presidential candidates such as Donald Trump or Bill Clinton misbehaved, their supporters insisted that the stakes of every presidential election were too high for dissent, because Roe was always on the national ballot. That isn’t healthy. In America, the people are supposed to make the law. Now they can.”

Dan McLaughlin, New York Post

“‘Trust the people,’ Winston Churchill would proclaim. The Supreme Court on Friday declared that — on abortion — we will. States have and will continue to legislate on abortion. Congress may even, down the road, preempt those laws — as is its constitutional right. We don’t ‘trust the people’ on freedom of the press, the free exercise of religion, the right of the accused, the ability to keep and bear arms. Those rights are clearly enumerated in the written Constitution. They are set down in writing in the Constitution to stand against the demands of transient majorities…

No written, explicit protection for abortion rights exists in the Constitution; nor did the court simply anticipate where state legislatures were headed, as it did in the Griswold case striking down state barriers to contraception or in Obergefell, which established the right to same-sex marriage. Nothing remotely approaching consensus developed on abortion because of the fierce, continuing debate about the status of the fetus/unborn child. This freighted argument must be settled, if ever, by elected representatives accountable to voters.”

Hugh Hewitt, Washington Post

“Whatever one thinks sex is and what it is for — whether a sacred act or a mere recreational pleasure — all of us can agree that sex is the only human activity that has the power to create life and that every potentially procreative sexual act therefore carries some level of risk that pregnancy could occur… Except in the horrible circumstances of rape or incest, which account for 1 percent of abortions, women and men both have bodily agency and choices about whether they will have sex…

“Our bodies undeniably place a disproportional burden on women in reproduction. There is an inescapable asymmetry in male and female bodies when it comes to making and carrying life. To address the particular difficulty that pregnancy places on women, we need to hold fathers more responsible through child support laws. And we need to create a culture that does not shame women for unintended pregnancies but supports them…

“Yet, the state, in the end, cannot and ought not entirely rescue us from the known realities of human biology… To use language of forced gestation or of a state ‘controlling’ women’s bodies is to portray biology itself as oppressive and halting the natural course of the body as the liberative role of the state. For both men and women, bodily autonomy can’t mean that we can do whatever we want, whenever we want, with our own bodies without natural consequences or obligations to others.”

Tish Harrison Warren, New York Times

A libertarian's take

“The conservatives' reasons for overruling Roe are actually similar to liberals' own justifications for junking precedents they believe to be especially awful, like the reversal of Bowers v. Hardwick, the 1986 case upholding the constitutionality of anti-sodomy laws in Lawrence v. Texas (2003), the reversal of numerous pre-New Deal cases protecting economic liberties and property rights, and the reversal of Baker v. Nelson (1972), in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) (thereby striking down laws banning same-sex marriage)…

“Each of these situations ultimately came down to a liberal or liberal-leaning Supreme Court majority concluding that the precedents in question should be gotten rid of because they were badly wrong and caused profound harm. I think the liberals were right about Bowers and Baker. But that doesn't change the reality of how the reversal of those precedents came about.”
Ilya Somin, Volokh Conspiracy

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