In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court overturned Roe V Wade ending 50 years of a woman’s constitutional right to abortion. In their majority opinion, the majority conservative court said, “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. 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.”
In 1973 in a 7-2 decision, the SCOTUS affirmed a woman’s right to an abortion under the 14th Amendment. Today’s ruling now leaves the decision to protect a woman’s right to choose in the hands of state lawmakers. The 5-4 ruling is just the beginning of an intense political fight nationwide. According to most opinion polls, most Americans support a women’s constitutional right to choose, however over 20 states have enacted laws to ban or restrict a woman’s reproductive rights that will now go into effect. Some of these laws ban abortion by making it illegal after six weeks and in some cases offer no exceptions even in the case of rape, incest, and potential fetal abnormalities.
The three liberal Supreme Court Justices said in their joint opinion, “With sorrow — for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection—we dissent.”
In a televised press conference President Biden said no executive order could reverse this decision but encouraged Americans to make their opinions known during the election season. “This fall, Roe is on the ballot-Personal freedoms are on the ballot. The right to privacy, liberty, and equality — they’re all on the ballot. Until then, I will do all in my power to protect a woman’s right in states where they will face the consequences of today’s decision.”
Former President, Barack Obama said on Twitter, “Today, the Supreme Court not only reversed nearly 50 years of precedent, but it also relegated the most intensely personal decision someone can make to the whims of politicians and ideologues—attacking the essential freedoms of millions of Americans.”
The SCOTUS decision centers on a case about a Mississippi law that bars most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. In 2018, Mississippi passed the “Gestational Age Act”, which blocked abortions after 15 weeks with the exception of medical emergencies or severe fetal abnormality. The act was blocked by two federal courts. Mississippi appealed the decision to the Supreme Court arguing that the law should be upheld, and Roe V Wade should be overturned.
WHAT HAPPENS IN ILLINOIS AND CHICAGO?
Illinois is still a state committed to protecting women’s access to abortion and other reproductive care. Illinois Governor, JB Pritzker said, “Today, in a direct assault on the right to privacy and self-determination,
the United States Supreme Court confirmed our worst fears on Roe vs Wade. The Republican Party and the extremists they appointed to the Supreme Court have satisfied their goal. However, to women everywhere: abortion is still safe and legal in Illinois.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot also issued a statement saying, “I’m sick to my stomach thinking about the millions of people who will be stripped of their bodily autonomy as a result of this decision. Of the women who will risk their lives trying to obtain unsafe abortions or those who will stay in dangerous situations because they don’t have a better alternative. Of the young women and girls who will have less freedom than their mothers and grandmothers. What’s more, this decision sets up a precedent for banning contraception, same-sex marriage, and other rights. I promise you this: I will do everything in my power to protect reproductive freedom in Chicago — including for those coming out of state. As long as I am Mayor, Chicago will be a safe haven for women in need of reproductive health care.”
LOCAL COMMUNITY LEADERS RESPOND
Local lawmakers, politicians, and women’s advocacy groups were quick to condemn the SCOTUS Decision. Illinois State Senator, Tammy Duckworth said in a statement, “I am outraged and horrified—this outcome is a nightmare that robs women of their right to make their own choices about their healthcare and their bodies, and it paves the way for a nationwide abortion ban that Republicans have been seeking for decades. Millions of American families—including my own—have relied on Roe v. Wade for almost 50 years, and 70% of Americans believe it should remain the law of the land. The Supreme Court of the United States and the Justices who claimed Roe was ‘settled law,’ but then turned around and ruled otherwise, will—as Justice Sotomayor said—’ struggle to survive the stench’ of this extreme decision.”
“Five people I never met decided they will make health decision for my school-aged daughter, not me. Years from now, when my daughter is an adult, she will not be able to decide what happens with her body because five people she never met determined they know best. Today, the doctors and nurses, and friends who participate in a woman’s decision could face criminal charges for doing nothing more than delivering their professional opinion, providing their expert care, and offering a supportive role. As the father of a teenage daughter, I am furious with the hypocritical politicians who seek to control her body and have decided that she, and every other woman in my life, and in our country, are incapable of making decisions about their own body.”-Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs
“By striking down Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court has turned back the clock on women’s rights by denying them autonomy over their own bodies. This decision currently hurts poor, rural, and disadvantaged women in conservative states the most, but it has the potential to affect every woman in this country as it opens the door for a future GOP-controlled Congress to pass a national ban,” said Rep. Rush. “If the conservative pro-life movement really cared about the lives of children, they would be supporting mothers and children instead of prohibiting healthcare access and oppressing women.”- Congressman Bobby Rush
“Today is a devastating day with the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Let’s be clear what this decision will not do – it will not prevent women from seeking abortions. What this decision will do is force women to carry unwanted pregnancies to term or seek dangerous and unregulated means for an abortion. This decision will disproportionately impact women of color and poor women, like all policies built on inequity. It also removes all women’s right to choose what happens to their own bodies. Under this ruling, contraception, same-sex marriage, and other rights are now under attack. Illinois and Cook County will remain a safe haven for women, but as we deal with this harsh reality, we must continue to strengthen our resolve and fight back.”- Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle
ILLINOIS CANDIDATES FOR OFFICE WEIGH IN ON THE SCOTUS DECISION
“Not only am I disgusted that the highest court in the land has stripped women and gender-nonconforming people of our reproductive healthcare rights despite the fact that the majority of Americans support access to abortions, but I also am deeply afraid of what comes next unless Democrats fight back with everything we’ve got. – 1st Congressional District Candidate, Jacqui Collins
Illinois 7th Congressional Candidate Kina Collins said, “This ruling is everything we feared. It is a violent, coordinated right-wing assault on our fundamental reproductive rights and we must do everything we can to protect abortion access in Illinois and across the country.”
“No one should be able to tell a woman what she can or cannot do with her body, and I will always stand with women and fight for their right to determine their health choices. Elections matter and this decision is only the beginning. This should be a wake-up call to Americans across our country that who we have in the White House, in Congress, and in our state, legislatures are the difference between keeping our fundamental rights and having them stripped away. Democrats and people of goodwill need to get out and vote accordingly.” “-1st District Congressional Candidate Jonathan Swain
“It is appalling that the Supreme Court has sought to criminalize women and doctors, even in cases where a woman or girl has been victimized by rape or incest. And this will not stop here – voting rights and marriage equality will be next. Make no mistake, these rights are now in the hands of the people we elect to Congress. I will be a tireless advocate for codifying Roe V. Wade into law and protecting women and doctors.”-1st Congressional District Candidate, Karin Norington-Reaves
“As Illinois closes in on Primary Election Day, today’s decision is a grave reminder that voting matters. Elections matter. Donald Trump gave us three politically conservative justices on the Supreme Court: Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Coney Barrett – the consequences of which will be felt for generations to come.”- Mayoral Candidate Kam Buckner
The American Medical Association also expressed displeasure with the ruling saying, “The American Medical Association is deeply disturbed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn nearly a half-century of precedent protecting patients’ right to critical reproductive health care — representing an egregious allowance of government intrusion into the medical examination room, a direct attack on the practice of medicine and the patient-physician relationship, and a brazen violation of patients’ rights to evidence-based reproductive health services. States that end legal abortion will not end abortion — they will end safe abortion, risking devasting consequences, including patients’ lives.
THE POTENTIAL IMPACT OF THE SCOTUS RULING
The overturning of Roe v Wade could have long-reaching effects when it comes to privacy protections and civil rights. In the Supreme Court ruling, the majority said that other rulings should be reconsidered.
“We should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold (which prevents states from making contraception illegal), Lawrence (which decriminalized consensual sex between people of the same sex), and Obergefell (which ruled Gay Marriage legal) because any substantive due process decision is ‘demonstrably erroneous,” said Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. The 14th amendment covers the right to privacy across a variety of personal freedoms.
This ruling is especially damaging to the poor, minority, and immigrant communities. Clinics that offer preventative care in addition to abortions could close or have limited access. These clinics and facilities often supply pap smears, breast exams, contraceptive care, and more to the uninsured and underserved. With the maternal mortality rate for Black women almost three times that of whites, experts fear those rates will climb.
With a conservative Supreme Court that now includes three Trump-appointed judges, and a more extreme GOP, the erosion of personal freedoms for Americans remains a real threat and an item that is sure to be a huge talking point in midterm elections.