Op-ed: The vulnerable status of Roe v. Wade and the dark state of American democracy

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Content Warning: This article mentions sexual assault.

In the wake of the omicron variant threatening to cripple the world, the history of the Mississippi abortion case is somewhat eclipsed. Yet the Supreme Court’s tendency to uphold the Mississippi abortion law – a law that would blatantly undermine Roe v. Wade – marks a serious reality of the current Supreme Court: a system that was once famous for defending democracy has been eaten away by party politics. The result is much darker: the precariousness of a woman’s constitutional right to choose.

Mississippi law proposes to ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. This law is in direct opposition to Roe v. Wade in 1973, who according to The New York Times, “established a constitutional right to abortion and prohibited states from prohibiting the procedure before fetal viability, at around 23 weeks.” The Mississippi case parallels the Texas Supreme Court ruling in September that restricted abortion after six weeks of pregnancy – another blatant disregard of U.S. constitutional law. These cases, and the likelihood of Supreme Court justices upholding the law in Mississippi, are clearly harbingers of further attempts to weaken Roe v. Wade.

Yet the only reason these cases were initially considered is the new change in composition of the Court. Under the Trump administration, the former president appointed three judges: Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. These three choices lean to the right, resulting in a conservative qualified majority in the Supreme Court. These positions are held until death, impeachment or retirement, so these appointees will make up the tribunal for perhaps decades. While the Trump presidency is (at least for now) over, ideologies of the destructive administration prevail thanks to the judges’ tolerance of relentless threats against Roe v. Wade.

When we think of senior judges under the old administration, let’s not forget that Brett Kavanaugh – the second person named by Trump – was appointed despite multiple charges of sexual misconduct. These allegations dated back to his high school and college years. The most publicized was that of Dr Christine Blasey Ford, who said Kavanaugh had forced her into a bedroom against her will and subsequently sexually assaulted her. Despite these claims, his appointment was confirmed by the then majority Republican Senate. It is ironic that a suspected sex offender has the power to deny a woman the right to choose. This reflects how the actions of the Trump administration that neglected the basic well-being of women have reverberated in the present moment.

Restrictions on abortion do not prevent its practice, but on the contrary increase the likelihood that women will resort to unsafe measures to end unintended pregnancies. the Center for Reproductive Rights finds that states with more restrictions on abortion have higher rates of maternal and infant mortality. Indeed, women who do not have access to abortions in a regulated health facility will often seek clandestine abortions or other unregulated and unsafe measures to terminate a pregnancy. Yet despite these facts, a decision that can negatively impact millions of people is in the hands of a few without compromise.

Politicians and activists have taken to social media to share their thoughts on the issue. Among a slew of loaded tweets, Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote, “We cannot and will not allow our granddaughters a world in which they have fewer rights and fewer opportunities than we do. ”

She’s right. We must ensure that women are raised in a world where their health and well-being are valued. Yet this obligation seems impossible when the highest court of the United States operates in such a politically conflicting framework. The influence of political parties within the judiciary undermines the democratic values ​​on which the US government ostensibly rests. This is done to the detriment of real women.

Abortion is not the only thing affected by the fragmented structure of the Supreme Court. Recent decisions which include its inability to tackle partisan gerrymandering, its expansion of corporate personality and its inability to enforce campaign finance laws are also the result of winning party politics. on the democratic process. The greater politicization of our country’s legal system has affected our country in terms of accountability and fairness, and has shown how it can dismantle the legality of abortion.

Although I am disheartened by the current state of American democracy, I find hope in the various forms of activism supporting the constitutional rights granted by Roe v. Wade. Countless protesters have appeared in Supreme Court to oppose Mississippi’s law, some dancing to Cardi B’s ‘WAP’ (2020), a song that celebrates female sexual pleasure. Organizations like Planned Parenthood tirelessly continue to provide individuals with access to essential reproductive health services. So, despite government resistance, we persist. At the heart of these efforts is the undeniable power of women.


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