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WASHINGTON D.C., USA – June 24, 2022: Pro-choice demonstrators gather in front of the Supreme Court to protest the Dobbs v. Jackson decision released today.
Photo by Stephanie Kenner/Shutterstock
Protests erupted in response to extremist right-wing Supreme Court justices’ decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on Friday, the result of the far right’s decades-long disinformation and funding campaign to restrict bodily autonomy and the right to an abortion in the U.S.
The Court ruled 6 to 3 to overturn 50 years of precedent set by Roe, the landmark 1973 ruling that established abortion protections across the country. The decision will have wide-reaching and devastating consequences for the nation’s 330 million people. At least 26 states are certain or likely to ban abortion now that Roe is gone, and health experts have said that many people will die as a result.
Conservative Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett ruled as the majority. Chief Justice John Roberts filed a concurring judgment with the majority. Dissenting from the opinion were Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), flanked by pro-abortion protesters, said that the problem isn’t going to be solved “in a day, or in an election, or in a year. Because we’ve gotta strap in. This is a generational fight.”
Activists in cities like New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, and more have started protests or are planning to protest, while groups have been sharing tips on safe protesting that will help activists resist police violence.
Abortion rights and justice advocates decried the racist, dehumanizing decision and encouraged the public to educate themselves on ways to support abortion access. “It is clear that the Supreme Court has no interest in protecting our lives and our access to healthcare,” wrote abortion advocacy group We Testify.
The decision, which is rooted in hundreds of years of anti-Black racism, will especially affect Black people, who are disproportionately at risk of dying during pregnancy and more likely to get an abortion than their white counterparts.
The decision is also a direct attack on the poorest Americans, who already had less access to reproductive care before Roe was overturned. The states that are poised to ban abortions in the absence of Roe are among the poorest in the nation.
“Due to racism and other forms of discrimination in the U.S, the impact of this decision will cause disproportionate harm for people of color, women, those living on lower incomes, young people, immigrants, and members of the LGBTQI+ community,” wrote reproductive justice group SisterSong. “We will never stop fighting. Ever. But we understand today is devastating. Today we are OUTRAGED, but we will organize and resist and never stop fighting!”
Lawmakers also joined in the chorus. “Abortion care IS health care. It was so before this. And it will remain so after this,” wrote Rep. Cori Bush (D-Missouri). “We don’t care what a far-right extremist Supreme Court that is in a crisis of legitimacy says. Your racist, sexist, classist ruling won’t stop us from accessing the care we need.”
The decision, written by Justice Alito, is riddled with anti-abortion talking points, including the viewpoint that, because the Constitution doesn’t directly discuss abortion, it is not a protected right.
“The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision,” Alito wrote.
In his written opinion, Alito rejected arguments that the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution could be cited to protect a person’s right to an abortion. But while he promised within his opinion that the precedent being set on Friday wouldn’t upset other important cases, Justice Clarence Thomas disagreed, writing his own concurring opinion on the case at hand in which he complained that the Court didn’t go far enough — a sentiment that many progressives had warned about in the run-up to the Court’s decision.
The Court “declines to disturb substantive due process jurisprudence generally or the doctrine’s application in other, specific contexts,” Thomas wrote, citing specific cases like Griswold v. Connecticut (the right to contraceptives), Lawrence v. Texas (the right of adults to have consensual sexual relationships) and Obergefell v. Hodges (the federal recognition of same-sex marriages).
“In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell,” Thomas wrote, claiming that the majority’s opinion today required the Court to “correct” those precedents to be more in-line with his and others’ conservative viewpoints.
The dissenting opinion, meanwhile, written jointly by Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer, noted that a number of “draconian restrictions” already established in several states could become much worse in the future, given the conservative bloc’s newly imposed standards on abortion.
“Some States will not stop” with criminalizing abortion, the justices said. “Perhaps, in the wake of today’s decision, a state law will criminalize the woman’s conduct too, incarcerating or fining her for daring to seek or obtain an abortion. And as Texas has recently shown, a State can turn neighbor against neighbor, enlisting fellow citizens in the effort to root out anyone who tries to get an abortion, or to assist another in doing so.”
“Most threatening of all,” the dissenting justices said, “no language in today’s decision stops the Federal Government from prohibiting abortions nationwide, once again from the moment of conception and without exceptions for rape or incest.”
Indeed, far right politicians reacting to Friday’s ruling have already called for such measures — including former Vice President Mike Pence, who issued a statement demanding the end of abortion protections “in every state in the land.”