Upending of Roe v Wade reverses progress made on women’s rights in America, and possibly elsewhere

On June 24, the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) dealt a blow against American women’s rights to their own bodies by overturning the 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed the right to abortion nationwide. The ruling in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization upheld Mississippi’s controversial gestational age law banning abortions after 15 weeks of gestation, while overturning Roe’s ruling, as well as Planned Parenthood’s 1992 ruling against Casey, both granted American women’s rights. The right to safe and legal abortion.

The court deemed Roe “grossly mistaken” and said it would “return the abortion issue to the elected representatives of the people,” paving the way for bans in 26 states. However, doing so may be against what the majority of the American people want. A recent Gallup poll found that 55 percent of Americans identify as a “pro-choice,” while 52 percent said they found abortion “morally acceptable” — the highest number ever to say so. The popular majority may be fleeting at times, but Dobbs has irrevocably damaged the edifice of individual rights that had been built piece by piece over two centuries, dealing a physical blow to the evolving 21st century American understanding of what liberty, self-determination, and liberties are. present in them. It includes. The court’s argument that the right to abortion is neither upheld by the Constitution nor “deeply rooted in the history and traditions of this nation” does not take into account how much the American human rights landscape has changed since 1789, when the Constitution took effect. Where American women were invisible to those who drafted the document, she is now an equal citizen. Denial of bodily autonomy can take a heavy toll on a woman’s ability to participate fully in a nation’s social and economic life – not to mention risks to their health and lives, as many will be forced to seek illegal and unsafe abortions. Even as the Biden administration moves to ensure abortion pills are available in states that ban the medical procedure, the future of other rights also appears to be in question. Alarm bells are sounding about Judge Clarence Thomas’s memorandum urging a “reconsideration” of all cases that have guaranteed contraceptive rights, same-sex relations and marriage.

By withdrawing a right, the court will set a dangerous precedent and will feel the ripples outside the borders of the United States. Across the world, the United States is seen as leading the march toward greater individual rights. The struggle to keep the individual at the center of an expanded rights-based framework can become more difficult.

This editorial first appeared in print on June 28, 2022 under the title “Long step back”.

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