The Supreme Court of the United States is determined to annul the right to abortion that the same court enshrined in 1973 in the historic sentence of the case Roe against Wade. This follows from an initial draft published on Monday night by the newspaper Politico, in a leak of information that is unprecedented. It is signed by Judge Samuel Alito and reflects a predominant opinion of five of the nine magistrates that make up the court.
The text leaves no room for doubt: according to this private vote, issued in February, a conservative majority of the Supreme Court considers that the precedent set by the 1973 ruling deserves to be overthrown (and confirmed in the case Planned Parenthood contra Casey, of 1992). “[La sentencia de] Roe I was terribly wrong from the start,” writes Alito. “His motivation for her was exceptionally weak and that decision has had detrimental consequences. Far from achieving a national consensus on the issue of abortion, Roe y Casey they fueled the debate and deepened the division.”
The 98-page document known today is a “first draft.” The final ruling is not expected until late June or early July. It is unlikely, but it could be that the balances in the court have changed or will change between February and now or in the time that remains until the end of the judicial year. The court has a conservative supermajority unprecedented in decades of six to three.
“The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no right of this type is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision”, can be read in the argument of Alito, which is supported by Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Neil Gorsuch (missing). , among the Conservative payroll, John Roberts). “It is time to pay attention to the fundamental rule and return the issue to the representatives elected by the people,” states the draft, always according to Politico.
The exclusive has generated an instant impact in Washington, both for its content —abortion is the most persecuted issue this year by specialized reporters in the Supreme Court—, and, above all, because there is no evidence that a draft of these characteristics has ever been filtered while a case was under study. Who does this leak serve is an issue that has also immediately ignited the debate about the growing politicization of the institution.
Dozens of people have concentrated in the minutes following the publication of Politico to protest outside the High Court building in Washington. According to a recent Pew Research Center report, nearly seven in ten Americans are against repealing Roe against Wade.
In practice, this would mean the freedom of States to decide on the reproductive rights of 166 million women. And some have not been wasting time: When the final ruling arrives, the laws enacted across the country by Republican governors in recent months will go into effect immediately.
More than 20 states are awaiting that decision. The latest to sign up was Oklahoma, whose House of Representatives approved a strict rule last Thursday that prohibits interventions after the sixth week of gestation, before most women know they are pregnant. It is a carbon copy of the Texas initiative, enacted in September and known as the law of the heartbeat, in reference to the vital signs of the fetus. The only exceptions are considered for cases in which the life of the mother is in danger.
It also allows (and encourages) private citizens to sue for $10,000 abortion providers or anyone who helps a woman get an abortion (and that, as the law is interpreted, could include, for example, the taxi driver take her to the clinic). For these collaborators, the rule provides for prison sentences of up to 10 years. In recent months, Oklahoma had become the destination for many Texan women, given the impossibility of terminating pregnancy in their state. Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has declared his intention to become the “most life-friendly in America.”
The original litigant Roe against Wade It was Norma McCorvey, a Dallas waitress who in 1970 sued Henry Wade, district attorney of the Texas city, to claim her right to have an abortion in that state. The case reached the Supreme Court, which in January 1973 decided, seven votes against two, in favor of McCorvey, relying on the fourteenth amendment, which guarantees privacy (and that is one of its weak points). Planned Parenthood contra Casey it ended with a vote of 5-4. In this second review, which comes almost half a century later, for the moment it seems that five votes against Roe.
McCorvey was unable to benefit from the fruits of her struggle: she had the girl in June 1970 and gave her up for adoption. Under the pseudonym with which he denounced, Jane Roe, She became a symbol of the fight for women’s reproductive rights in the United States, although she later changed her mind and became a convinced anti-abortionist. That decision constitutionally guaranteed the right to interrupt a pregnancy until the 23rd week, in which the viability of the fetus is established. The case that has taken the debate to the Supreme Court comes from the challenge of a law of the State of Mississippi that intends to advance that border until 15 weeks.
“On many other occasions, this court has annulled important constitutional decisions…”, says Alito’s text known this Monday. “Without those decisions, American constitutional law as we know it would be unrecognizable, and this would be a different country.” What seems clear is that if the sentence that is cooking in the Supreme finally confirms what the draft advances, the United States will change again, profoundly, half a century later.
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