Today, We Step Backward

Today, We Step Backward

Anna Kelly, Opinion Editor

On the night of Monday, May 2nd, there was a jarring revelation, a controversial leak, a foreshadowing of the fight for bodily autonomy: the Supreme Court privately voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court case legalizing abortion in 1973. You’d think that nearly 50 years later, our country would grow past the trivial fight of choice versus force. You’d think that by now, if we really cared about human life the same way we care about fetal cells, we’d be instituting free, universal healthcare, rent management, and reduced college debt. But no–debates over a woman’s body seem to steal the show. 

A draft Supreme Court decision was leaked to the public via POLITICO stating that Roe v Wade was unconstitutional and “must be overruled,” in the words of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Samuel Alito, who wrote the draft. The release of the draft opinion is unprecedented in US history–Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) decisions are traditionally veiled in secrecy. 

At that time, the court’s findings were by no means final. The decision was likely to be released in two months, meaning there was time for justices to change their opinions.

The revelation was shocking, but SCOTUS decisions are rooted in constitutionality, not opinion (though morals do skew). Justice Alito said in the draft that the reasoning behind Roe v Wade was “exceptionally weak.” 

“The inescapable conclusion is that a right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and traditions,” Alito wrote.

Constitutionality-wise, their decision is based on the idea that the Constitution does not implicitly protect abortion. Alito goes on to state, “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

This means that in most red states, abortion will be outlawed. In blue states, abortion will continue to be protected–a concerning politicization of a woman’s rights issue. 

Yet the reasoning behind Alito’s draft is flawed. According to the 14th Amendment, citizens have a constitutional right to privacy, meaning that undue government intrusion into personal decisions is unconstitutional. One example of this would be allowing states to ban abortion, thus banning a woman’s right to choose. 

Additionally, the 9th Amendment was adopted in 1791 as a part of Madison’s Bill of Rights, and is notably a very cloudy clause. Directly, it states, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” 

In simpler words, the rights given to Americans in the Constitution are not the only rights citizens have. Other rights cannot be denied simply because they are not listed. As our country grows into the modern age, our rights shift as our lives shift. We continue to have the basic rights of life, liberty, and happiness, yet with the rise of technology, innovation of medicine, and economic growth, rights we didn’t need in the 18th century are necessary now. 

In the 18th century, safe abortion did not exist. Now, it’s 2022. Abortion is a medical procedure that is safely done–and necessary in many instances to save the life of the mother. Overturning Roe v Wade means states are allowed to deny the right of the mother to choose. They can deny doctors from performing this procedure. When the Supreme Court knowingly places the decision of abortion choice into the hands of representatives who will not uphold the Constitution, then it is up to the SCOTUS to protect these rights at a federal level. 

The argument of whether abortion should be legal or not isn’t a moral issue, nor a religious issue, nor a political issue: Supreme Court decisions are rooted in Constitutionality. A woman’s right to choose whether or not to have an abortion is completely constitutional, but in a conservative leaning court, judges in the majority can interpret the Constitution to uphold their personal morals. Despite the so-called separation of church and state, the influence of religion on a person’s opinion is completely legal. 

Today, our country is entering a terrifying chapter in history. The Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision was overturned on Friday, June 24th, which is a step backward for women nationwide. This decision sets a precedent for the Supreme Court to have influence over medical procedures and bodily autonomy. It’s an argument skewed by opinion that should stay rooted in fact, beginning an era reflecting President George Washington’s sentiments that political affiliations will tear this country apart.