Six conservative Supreme Court Justices versus 60 million women of reproductive age

Mayank Chhaya –

Six conservative Supreme Court justices aged between 50 and 74 took away the constitutional right to abortion of millions of American women in a ruling with seismic sociocultural implications.

Mayank Chayya

At the very least the court ruling affects close to 60 million women of reproductive age. The idea that six justices for life can determine the fate of 60 million women is both stunning and troubling. The decision this morning is fraught with serious political and cultural consequences for an already deeply divided and fractious America.

Just how out of step the six conservative justices, John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch. Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, are, can be measured by the fact that 61 percent of Americans support abortion rights. Within those 88 percent Democrats, 59 percent independents and a third of Republicans support abortion rights.

It is a measure of the Supreme Court’s twisted thinking that while yesterday it held that states cannot make laws governing the constitutional right to bear arms, today it ruled the exact opposite saying states can make laws to overturn the constitutional right to abortion in existence for nearly 50 years.

Under the ruling, more than a dozen Republican-led states have the ability now to outlaw abortion in most cases immediately given that they already have legislation in place. Just how eager many of these states are to ban abortion is illustrated by the fact that just minutes after the court ruling Missouri’s attorney general, Eric Schmitt, certified the state’s trigger law which effectively bans all abortions. Among the states that are expected to follow are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The Center for Reproductive Rights painted a grim picture of what is to follow. In a statement, its president and CEO Nancy Northup said, “The Court’s opinion delivers a wrecking ball to the constitutional right to abortion, destroying the protections of Roe v. Wade, and utterly disregarding the one in four women in America who make the decision to end a pregnancy.

While public support for access to abortion is at an all-time high, the Court has hit a new low by taking away – for the first time ever – a constitutionally guaranteed personal liberty.

Utter chaos lies ahead, as some states race to the bottom with criminal abortion bans, forcing people to travel across multiple state lines and, for those without means to travel, carry their pregnancies to term — dictating their health, lives, and futures. Today’s decision will ignite a public health emergency.”

The decision comes barely five months before the November elections and could have a defining impact on its outcome. Although it was widely expected that the Supreme Court would rule along the lines it did, it still shook up pro-choice groups generally and the Democratic Party particularly. However, it brings with it potential for great electoral rewards for the Democrats who can now galvanize their base as well independents on this single issue before elections. Shortly after the ruling, both President Joe Biden and Speaker Nancy Pelosi were quick to say that abortion and reproductive health rights will be an issue on the November ballot.

For conservatives generally the Republican Party particularly this is a signature victory after their decades-long fight to overturn Roe V. Wade which made abortion rights constitutionally guaranteed. However, as a party it is unlikely to be lost on the Republicans that the court decision may not necessarily bring significant electoral dividends if a majority of Americans was against overturning Roe V. Wade.

Abortion rights are now an individual state subject and no longer federally guaranteed. That has profound implications for reproductive rights and women’s health across America. Irrespective of whether some 60 million women of reproductive are pro-choice or pro-life the decision still has the ability to directly affect their personal health.

On his own President Biden cannot do much other than guarantee travel across state lines for those seeking abortion and other related matters. As he said, it is now up to Congress to make Roe V. Wade a federal law, something that cannot be achieved given the way the two houses are divided.