United States of America

28 June 2022

The Supreme Court rules that the right for abortion isn't protected under the Constitution

13 states have already passed "trigger laws" to introduce bans following the court's decision. Another 13 could further restrict access to abortion and very few will include exceptions for cases of rape. On the other hand, 20 states have remained firm in maintaining abortion as a protected right, especially those controlled by the Democratic Party.


Since the US is a federation, it will be each state that decides the legality or illegality of abortion, which will have criminal and economic consequences as well as health and social ones. Abortions will continue to be practiced, whether or not it involves traveling to another state or resorting to clandestine clinics, which in many cases will entail health risks. Other possible scenarios point to growing families in a poor economic situation, an increase in children given up for adoption, or self-injurious behavior and other means to force abortions that might result in prison sentences.


Of the little that can be agreed is that it is a rather a political issue, inevitable to be thought when a court invalidates a previous ruling. The serious polarization that exists in the country is becoming more and more evident, where two nations coexist separated by a multitude of values ​​and objectives.


Moreover, it is expected that ahead of the elections for Congress to be held in November, both Democrats and Republicans will once again use the debate on abortion for electoral campaigns, trying to gain the votes of affected women on the one hand, and bringing on board other related issues such as surrogacy or homosexual marriage.


The landmark Roe v. Wade Act of 1973 was the legal precedent that guaranteed the right to abortion for almost 50 years and the contemplation of the Fourteenth Amendment that guaranteed the constitutional right to privacy under the clauses of due process and equal protection. This was reaffirmed in 1992 in the case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey.


The case that pitted Texas citizen Jane Roe against prosecutor Henry Wade ruled in favor of the first, who argued that Texas abortion laws were unconstitutional. Subsequently, the State of Texas appealed to the Supreme Court, which ended up providing pregnant women with fundamental decision-making capacity, under the right to privacy contained in the Fourteenth Amendment.


Of course, not absolutely, but with a certain government regulation based on the protection of women's health and prenatal life: during the first trimester, governments could not prohibit abortion at all; during the second trimester, governments could demand reasonable health regulations; and during the third trimester, abortions could be prohibited altogether as long as the laws contained exceptions for cases where they were necessary to save the life or health of the mother.


However, almost 50 years later, Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization case has concluded with the void of this right, with the result of a vote of 6-3 alleging that the Constitution does not make any reference to abortion and none of its articles implicitly protect this right.


Thomas E. Dobbs, an official from the Mississippi State Department of Health, was sued by the Jackson Women's Health Organization, forcing the state of Mississippi to reverse its Gestational Age Law and challenging the constitutionality of this law that prohibited the practice of abortions after the first fifteen weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for a medical emergency or severe fetal abnormality.


Later, the Mississippi state attorney general deemed the matter of national concern and filed the petition to the Supreme Court. Him requesting revision of the viability standard on the grounds of the standard's inflexibility and inadequate adaptation of the current understanding of life before birth. The filing stated that fetuses can detect and respond to pain, and asked the Court to allow the ban on inhumane procedures.


Still, Congress could pass a law to maintain the guarantee of this right as it had been doing since 1973, however, it seems unlikely according to the high level of politicization in which the matter has submerged, as was mentioned at the beginning.


International leaders at the head of liberal nations have shown their disappointment with the decision of the Supreme Court, some like Trudeau, Macron or Boris Johnson, have manifested solidarity with American women and have guaranteed their citizens that the right to abortion is guaranteed and must be protected.

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