The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision that recognized a woman’s right to choose an abortion during the first two trimesters of pregnancy in the U.S.
The 6-3 decision was handed down by the court on June 24 as part of a decision in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The case stemmed from a Mississippi law that banned nearly all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Justice Samuel Alito, appointed by President George W. Bush, wrote the majority opinion that overturned Roe v. Wade. He was joined on the court by Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Neil Gorsuch, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, and Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Roberts, also appointed by President George W. Bush, concurred in the judgment only, and would have limited the decision to upholding the Mississippi law at issue in the case, which banned abortions after 15 weeks. Thomas was appointed by President George H.W. Bush, and Gorsuch, Barrett, and Kavanaugh were appointed by Donald Trump.
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Alito wrote. “The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely — the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. That provision has been held to guarantee some rights that are not mentioned in the Constitution, but any such right must be ‘deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition’ and ’implicit in the concept of ordered liberty… It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
Dissenting were Justice Stephen Breyer, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and Justice Elena Kagan. Breyer was appointed by President Bill Clinton and Sotomayor and Kagan were appointed by President Barack Obama.
The new decision says that “from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of,” they wrote in their dissent. “A State can force her to bring a pregnancy to term, even at the steepest personal and familial costs. An abortion restriction, the majority holds, is permissible whenever rational, the lowest level of scrutiny known to the law. And because, as the Court has often stated, protecting fetal life is rational, States will feel free to enact all manner of restrictions… With sorrow—for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection—we dissent.”
While the move is a devastating blow to women’s reproductive rights, it comes as no surprise after a draft of it was leaked in May. Now, in the wake of the ruling, several states led by Republicans are poised to enact complete abortion bans.
Menendez ready to fight
U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) condemned the decision, noting that it came at the hands of judges appointed by Republicans.
“After years of crusading, Republicans have succeeded in plunging our nation back to the dark days where women lived without bodily autonomy and access to safe reproductive care,” Menendez said. “The Supreme Court’s failure to uphold Roe v. Wade is a devastating and disastrous decision that will impact millions of American women and will forever remain a stain on our country’s history.”
Menendez said that this was an issue that extends beyond health care and into human rights.
“With today’s decision, the conservative majority on the Court has thrown out nearly 50 years of precedent — jeopardizing long-established progress on civil rights, voting rights, and LGBTQ+ rights,” Menendez said. “Make no mistake, the justices who struck down Roe have callously turned their backs on women and families all across America. As a result, where a woman lives will now determine her ability to access a full range of reproductive health options. The wealthy, the powerful, and the well-connected will still have access to any and all care they choose. But lower-income women, especially of color, will not. This is more than just a health care issue, this is a human rights issue.”
Although this battle was lost, Menendez noted that the war for women to have the right to choose was not over: “Today, I share your anger and disappointment. I share your frustration and your outrage. Tomorrow, and every day after until full reproductive health care access is fully restored, I stand ready to fight with you.”
Menendez Jr. stands for reproductive rights
The son of Sen. Menendez, Robert Menendez Jr., was quick to blast the decision ending Roe v. Wade. Menendez Jr. is the Democratic candidate for the 8th Congressional District which encompasses much of Hudson County and will be left vacant after the retirement of Rep. Albio Sires.
“While today’s decision by the Supreme Court was expected, it does not dull the disappointment nor concern that I, like so many Americans, have for our country and for the reproductive choices of all Americans,” Menendez Jr. said. “Let’s be extremely clear: the Court’s decision represents the theft of a right that women have had for half a century to bodily autonomy and the right to make decisions about their own lives and futures. Today’s ruling will not prevent abortions from occurring in states that ban them, but will prevent access to safe abortions by licensed providers.”
Menendez Jr. touted the steps New Jersey has taken to enshrine the right to choose, adding that he would work to apply that on a federal level in Congress, if elected.
“While in New Jersey Governor Murphy and the Legislature have provided women the security and safety they are owed by codifying the right to choose earlier this year, it is clear that we will need to fight harder than we ever have before to do the same on the national level,” Menendez Jr. said. “The House and Senate must act urgently to pass legislation to ensure that abortions remain accessible to those seeking them across our country – and, if I am fortunate enough to be elected, I pledge to put all my efforts into this fight.”
Pascrell condemns Republicans
Rep. Bill Pascrell, who represents the 10th Congressional District of New Jersey including Secaucus and Kearny, also condemned the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
“A woman’s health care must be guided solely by her own decisions in private consultation with her doctor,” Pascrell said. “No judges or politicians should have their hands on a woman’s bodily decisions. For the last 49 years, women in America have enjoyed these rights as settled law and today five unelected judges destroyed that precedent. Their decision will have catastrophic impacts on our nation both immediate and long-term.”
Pascrell noted that this would disproportionately impact women of color, especially in states poised to instate a total ban on abortion.
“This partisan decision will directly endanger the health of millions American women, especially women of color and impoverished women,” Pascrell said. “Already, at least 22 states are finalizing laws to criminalize a woman’s control of her own body. Outcomes that threaten women’s health care and would lead to criminal charges against women and medical providers are unacceptable in a civilized society. But that is precisely what will soon happen.”
Additionally, Pascrell concluded that this was a result of Republican appointments to the Supreme Court. He urged the Senate to pass legislation already passed by the House of Representatives codifying abortion into federal law.
“For decades, Republicans have packed the courts with right wing ideologues to achieve this outcome today,” Pascrell said. “Terrified to eliminate Roe at the ballot box, Republicans have relied on partisan judges to do it behind closed doors. Republicans have succeeded in their sinister quest and Republicans are the cause of this decision. In lifetime seats, these so-called jurists have done something deeply opposed by most Americans. Women will die because of what the Supreme Court has done, and our national divisions will badly worsen. The House has already voted to codify Roe into hard law. The Senate should move with urgency and do whatever it takes to pass it. We must never lose our urgency to erase this decision and reverse this dark day in America.”
ACLU seeks to expand abortion rights
In New Jersey, advocates and lawmakers have taken steps to safeguard abortion rights by passing the Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act earlier this year, but there is much more to do to expand abortion access for all, according to reproductive rights advocates. The ACLU of New Jersey said it remains committed to ensuring reproductive health care, including abortion, is accessible for all New Jerseyans regardless of race, gender identity, sexual orientation, immigration status, income, or insurance, and has called on lawmakers to pass legislation to ensure meaningful access to reproductive autonomy in the state.
“The decision of when and whether to have a child is a fundamental human right, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade upends core autonomy and privacy rights in many parts of our country,” said ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha. “This moment calls for bold action; anything less is unacceptable. We urge lawmakers to immediately take action to ensure New Jersey expands access to abortion for all as nationwide bans loom.”
Now abortion rights are left up to the states. While New Jersey has already protected the right to abortions for its residents, women in other states across the U.S. led by Republicans will likely no longer see the same access to reproductive health care.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.