How to overthrow Roe v. Wade threatens access to birth control


Key points to remember

  • The Supreme Court is about to overturn Roe vs. Wadethe decision that guarantees the right to abortion, according to a leaked draft opinion.
  • The draft contains an argument that threatens the right to privacy, which has informed decisions in many other civil rights cases.
  • Experts say access to birth control and other reproductive health care could be at stake.

A leaked Supreme Court draft opinion published by Policy Monday indicates the court is about to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that guarantees federal protection of abortion rights.

In the draft, Judge Samuel Alito wrote that decisions in Roe vs. Wade and Casey Against Planned Parenthood were “obviously untrue”.

The Court’s final decision may not fully align with the disclosed draft. But experts fear Alito’s writings have implications for other reproductive rights, warning that restricting access to birth control could be the next step.

“What bothers me is how extremist the language used in Alito’s project really is,” said Dázon Dixon Diallo, who founded the reproductive justice advocacy organization SisterLove in 1989. She has added that parts of the draft were setting the stage for the Court to strike. other civil rights that have been guaranteed over the past 50 years.

“My deepest concern is how far this goes in controlling and eroding our individual freedoms,” she said.

What is Roe vs. Wade Say about privacy?

When the Roe vs. Wade ruling was handed down in 1973, the Court determined that the 14th Amendment protects personal liberty, which includes the right to privacy from government action. Previous cases have also held that the Bill of Rights protects personal, marital, family and sexual privacy.

Although the US Constitution does not directly mention a right to privacy, the judges who have ruled on deer stated that certain parts of the document guarantee certain “privacy zones”. The decision to terminate a pregnancy, they said, is included in these areas.

The ruling created a fundamental right to abortion, though that right can be limited by states and other lawmakers.

But in his draft opinion, Justice Alito wrote that because the Constitution does not directly mention the right to abortion or privacy, deer can not stand.

Striking deer under that argument could have “really sweeping” implications for other rights that Americans enjoy that are based on the same right to privacy, said Mara Gandal-Powers, JD, director of birth control access. and Senior Counsel at the National Women’s Law Center. Very well.

The right to privacy has been used in many instances to grant protections that are “really important to how people structure their lives,” Gandal-Powers said. These include the right to marry a person of a different race, to have access to contraception, to have consensual sex in private, and to marry a person of the same sex.

“What’s in the draft is specific to Roe and Casey. But there are clear signals that Judge Alito, and potentially anyone who would sign an opinion like this, is really questioning whether this right to privacy, as he put it, is “deeply rooted in our history.” , she said. “That should be really unsettling for everyone.”

Alito argued in his draft that overthrowing Roe would not jeopardize other civil rights. But Gandal-Powers said there was no indication judges would avoid using the same reasoning about privacy rights when trying other cases.

Dazon Dixon-Diallo

Abortions will continue. What will not continue is the safety and protection of people seeking this very basic, low-risk health service.

— Dazon Dixon-Diallo

Birth control is protected under the same framework

In 1965, Griswold v. Connecticut was the first instance in which the Court issued a decision based on “confidential zones”. He ruled that married couples had a right to privacy against government restrictions on birth control.

The Court extended this right to unmarried persons by Eisenstadt vs. Baird in 1972, saying that the right to privacy should not depend on one’s marital status. Again citing the right to privacy, the Court declared that it was unconstitutional to prohibit the sale of contraceptives to people under the age of 16 and to limit access to non-prescription contraceptives, such as condoms and the plan. B, for all people in Carey v Population Services International.

Loss deer could open the door for the Supreme Court to overturn these key decisions that allow Americans access to contraceptives. But stripping those rights in court would take time, Gandal-Powers said.

“It would be very unlikely to see a three-month period where the Supreme Court issues opinions on consensual sex, same-sex marriage, interracial marriage – that’s not how we’ll see it happen. It takes time,” Gandal-Powers said.

But attempts to reduce access to contraceptives are already underway across the country. A Missouri bill attempted to ban Medicaid coverage for emergency contraceptives and intrauterine devices last year. Idaho banned public school health centers from providing emergency contraception, such as Plan B, in an “abortion-related activities” law.

“It has already begun, and the attacks against Griswold are something that I anticipate will happen more directly,” Gandal-Powers said. “They take advantage of the confusion. They take advantage of people’s lack of knowledge about how sex works and how pregnancy goes to try to ban birth control and make it more difficult to access.

Diallo, whose organization focuses on HIV and AIDS, said she fears anti-gay and anti-transgender bills across the country portend a threat to people’s ability to access pre-exposure prophylaxis, an important drug to prevent HIV.

Undermining the right to privacy, Diallo said, is an attempt by some lawmakers and judges to erode individuals’ freedom to make many different health decisions for themselves.

“It’s about bodily autonomy, and that’s what they’re after right after,” Diallo said.

For the moment, deer Still awake

It is important to remember that the Court has not yet rendered a decision in the Mississippi case and deer is still the law of the land.

“There are people who have abortion appointments today, tomorrow, next week — they should still be able to make those appointments. It’s still legal,” Gandal-Powers said. “We will work to help ensure that everyone who wants an abortion can get one, no matter where you live, no matter what your income, no matter what your circumstances look like.”

During her decades of reproductive health service and advocacy, Diallo said she had to work hard to protect the legal abortion rights of people of color. Reversal deer would make it even more difficult for people of color and low-income people to access reproductive health services.

Blacks make up more than a third of abortion patients in the United States, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. For those who live in states that will ban abortion if deer reversed, access to abortion care will become much more costly and restrictive. The challenges associated with seeking an out-of-state abortion will be greater for lower-income Americans and lead to more disparities in care, Diallo said.

“Abortions will continue. What will not continue is the safety and protection of people seeking this very basic, low-risk health service,” Diallo said. “Giving birth, especially for black women, is much more dangerous right now in the context of racial equity in our healthcare system.”

There are still ways to mobilize around reproductive rights, like getting involved in local and federal politics, donating to organizations that advocate for abortion access, and supporting the people in your life who might be or become pregnant.

“If you believe equal protection is important in this country, then you will believe that abortion should remain legal and safe for everyone who needs it,” Diallo said. “For now, it’s about women’s bodies and bodies that have wombs. After that, who’s next?

What this means for you

The Supreme Court is set to announce its final decision on a case that could overturn Roe vs. Wade in June. For now, abortion remains legal in all states, although some states like Texas have imposed substantial restrictions. You can visit a Planned Parenthood health center for more information on how to receive abortion care.


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