Our Island ideologues in the Supreme Court may imagine they have closed the book on federal abortion rights, but by overturning the Court’s twice-affirmed half-century recognition of such a constitutional right, they have ushered in an era of political conflict over abortion.
The question for US lawmakers and the judiciary – and thus almost inevitably for the High Court itself – is whether, in the name of preventing abortions, states can now fetter individual liberties in ways that would have seemed inconceivable just a few months ago. .
Consider what opponents of abortion have already done. By prohibiting terminating a pregnancy after the implantation of an egg, which occurs six to ten days after fertilization, Louisiana effectively declared a fertilized egg has more rights than the woman who wears it.
Is this really acceptable for America today? Or to a court that claims to believe in individual liberty?
Abortion haters have long labeled any pregnancy, from the moment of conception, as an unborn child. But an assembly of cells at the very beginning of a pregnancy is not a child. Still in the germinal stage and smaller than a poppy seed, it has not even reached the embryonic stage and will not be until several weeks after fertilization. It is only about nine weeks after fertilization that it will enter the fetal stage.
Roe vs. Wade and Family planning c. Casey had defined viability, the point at which a fetus can survive outside the womb, as the point at which states could restrict abortion rights. Anti-abortion crusaders had long sought to find a compelling alternative standard.
That’s what Mississippi’s 15-week law tried to do. After 12 weeks of gestation, says the state, a fetus’ heart is beating, its vital organs are developing, it has begun to move in the womb, and it “took on ‘human form’ in all relevant respects”. Although the Mississippi boundary would have resulted in a significant reduction in the Roe/Casey framework, he would have at least been in range in what elective abortion bECOMES illegal in much of Western and Central Europe.
But there is no prenatal development or precedent in the Western world to support a ban from the time of implantation. This only reflects a belief on the part of some religions that a fertilized egg or zygote is a child. The same goes of course for efforts to ban birth control methods that prevent a fertilized egg from attaching.
And regardless of whether one believes that viability or 15 weeks is the appropriate standard for ending abortions that do not endanger the life or health of the mother, force a girl or woman to continue a pregnancy resulting from ‘rape or incest before such a point is not just theocratic, it’s tyrannical. Yet this is where the anti-abortion community has largely landed. Speaking on CNN about a 10-year-old girl from Ohio who was six weeks pregnant following a rape, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem rejected the idea that the child must be able to have an abortion unless it is necessary to save its life.
This rape victim had to travel to a neighboring state to terminate her pregnancy. But state policymakers are now considering ways to prevent pregnant residents from traveling for abortions. Currently, these efforts are mostly focused on others who might help these trips financially or otherwise. In Missouri, the state’s attorney general is threatening to sue city officials in Saint Louis and Kansas City, Missouri, whether they pursue a policy of helping residents or workers travel to Kansas for abortions.
The civil vigilantism that Texas pioneered, where anyone can sue anyone who helps another get an abortion, is quite expensive. But the anti-abortion efforts are unlikely to stop there. President Biden said on Friday that he expects some states to decide to continue interstate travel to obtain an abortion. “People are going to be shocked at the first state. . . trying to arrest a woman for crossing a state line to get health services,” he said, adding that while some doubt it will come to this, “it will happen.”
We hope the president is wrong, but we fear he is prescient here.
During this time, we will undoubtedly see a wide range of laws, lawsuits and legal challenges regarding medical abortions, which now represent more than 40 percent of all pregnancy terminations. Although the The FDA allows these pills to be delivered by mail., their use is illegal in states that have banned abortion. But how such a ban will be enforced remains a huge question.
Expect a black market to develop for these drugs. Moreover, given the difficulty of reducing supply, it is reasonable to think that we will eventually see efforts to prosecute women found to have used them in states where abortion is illegal.
These and other questions will occupy our political and legal system for years to come, generating efforts to restrict American freedoms – and legal challenges to them. All of this will be part of the legacy of this court’s short-sighted decision on abortion rights.