Publisher’s note: Mary Ziegler is the author of “Abortion and the Law in America: Roe v. Wade to the Present” Y “Dollars for Life: The Anti-Abortion Movement and the Fall of the Republican Establishment“. The opinions expressed in this comment belong solely to its author. Read more opinions in cnne.com/opinion.
(CNN) — Although there are many people who have been warning about the annulment of Roe vs. Wade by the Supreme Court and the rollback of abortion rights, that doesn’t make this moment any less puzzling.
With this Friday’s decision, the United States has joined that list. The Supreme Court held that there is no constitutional provision that protects the right to abortion and that Roe v. Wade was a blunder the day he made up his mind.
The Supreme Court ruling on abortion could open the doors to reconsider the right to equal marriage and contraceptives
The court not only rejected the reasoning behind the 1973 decision, it sought to close the door on any future constitutional arguments for abortion rights. About half of states are expected to criminalize virtually all abortions in the coming weeks and months. What does this all mean?
The consequences of this decision will be more difficult to process, in part because we have never found ourselves in this situation before. It is true that many states had criminalized abortion before Roe existed, but the world has changed a lot since 1973. What seems clear now is that the decades-long war against abortion will continue, and may contribute more broadly to a democratic decline in USA.
For nearly a century before Roe, abortion in the US was largely inaccessible, with the vast majority of states making it a crime unless the pregnant person’s life was in danger. In the early 1970s, only Alaska, Hawaii, New York, and Washington allowed abortionand three of those four states had a residency requirement for those who wanted to undergo the medical procedure.
These are the US states where the right to abortion would be under threat after the annulment of Roe vs. Wade
After Friday’s decision, the patchwork of state abortion laws will be even more complicated. While it’s true that more states today support abortion rights, some 26 states have laws indicating they intend to ban it, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Others, like Florida, will restrict abortion and allow some exceptions.
Abortion is also much harder to stop now than it was before Roe: studies have found that virtual consultation abortion is safe under the right circumstances, and organizations like Aid Access routinely ship abortion pills around the world, including to countries and states where the procedure is banned.
But the world has also changed in ways that make this a dark time. The United States is much more politically polarized now than it was when Roe was decided. Negative partisanship, the intensity with which people reject those who disagree with them politically, has grown since the 1980s. In this political climate, conservative lawmakers are more likely to take extreme positions on abortion, in some cases trying to punish abortion providers and pregnant people while doing nothing to help new parents or pregnant women. kids.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the anti-abortion movement was stronger in the Catholic communities of the Northeast. Because many of these states had strong Democratic roots, candidates with strong anti-abortion convictions were sometimes forced to moderate their public positions. to win the general election.
Where is abortion legal in America and where is it prohibited? 0:50
After all, while Americans have long supported restrictions on abortion, especially later in pregnancy, they have tended to oppose criminalizing the procedure or elimination of the right to abortion in its entirety. That means Republican candidates and lawmakers used to defend certain exceptions to abortion bans, such as those for rape or incest.
But today, the anti-abortion movement is strongest in the South, where Democrats and independents often have no real chance of winning control of state legislatures. Given this scenario, and the fact that the Republican Party spent years Capitalizing on the fervor of voters who support Republican lawmakers based on their opposition to abortion, some politicians have no reason to avoid coercive or even extreme policies beyond their own abortion convictions.
A Texas woman lost her life years ago from an unsafe abortion. Her daughter fears that the same thing will happen again
All of this creates an opportunity for previously unthinkable policies to be seriously considered in some conservative states. The self-proclaimed abortion abolitionistssome of which have been linked to clinic blockades and cases of going against the abortion law for decades, they seemed like fringe actors before, with their calls to treat abortion as murder. But today it is no longer like that.
prominent figures of the movement are now adopting the same hard-line approach, and some state legislators bills have been promoted that would persecute those who seek abortionwhile well-known Republican Party candidates have campaigned, at times, against exceptions to safeguard the lives of pregnant people.
There is no reason to think that this issue will go away. Major anti-abortion groups have been insisting for many years that no woman should be punished for seeking an abortion, and some state laws, like the one in place in Texas, target anyone who performs an abortion or “helps” the procedure, rather than the person who has sought it. But the spread of self-performed abortion will considerably complicate this issue in conservative states.
With the increased availability of abortion pills, there will certainly be cases where people self-manage abortions, with only the help of doctors from other countries. And if states that seek to take coercive measures cannot extradite doctors from other countries or states that consider abortion a human right, they could resort to punishing those who abort. It is not difficult to imagine serious legal consequences for pregnant women; even with Roe in place, people have been prosecuted for their abortions and miscarriages.
It’s also worth noting that the government’s ability to spy on its citizens is much more sophisticated than it was in 1973. We leave behind data when we use apps, use Google and other browsers, and buy things online. There is a largely unregulated market in which this data is bought and sold. Armed with this data, states have powerful new tools to invade the privacy of anyone of reproductive age, not just those seeking abortions.
If the world of abortion has changed since 1973, our democracy has too. And the Supreme Court’s willingness to strike down Roe has far-reaching implications.
Since the 1970s, faith in democratic institutions has plummeted. Many Republicans believe the lie that the 2020 election was stolen; support for violent political protests has increased among Americans.
The Supreme Court, which previously seemed reluctant to issue decisions that would undermine popular opinion too much, now seems willing to indulge in controversy and declare its disregard for what Americans think. Not surprisingly, according to the latest Gallup poll, only 25% of Americans trust the Supreme Court.
The war on abortion has contributed to this democratic decline. In trying to reverse Roe, leaders of the anti-abortion movement fought to change campaign finance rules and realign the balance of power in the Republican Party. Anti-abortion advocates worked to center ordinary Republican voters in control of the Supreme Court and helped adjust the way justices are chosen, supporting those who were more polarizing and thus more likely to vote for the Supreme Court. undo the right to abortion.
The result is a court that is not only more conservative, but much more willing to break established precedent: a contramajoritarian court with nothing to weigh it down.
If there was a right-wing backlash after Roe, will progressives now mount a powerful response of their own? It’s certainly possible, but Roe alone didn’t trigger the political backlash we’ve seen against abortion. We are in this moment not only because of the weakness of Roe’s own decision, but also because of the strategic decisions of social movements, politicians, and ordinary Americans.
The Supreme Court decided the fate of Roe v. Wade, at least for now. What happens next, that’s up to the rest of us.