June 24, 2022 is a day to remember. Sadly, it is not to be remembered for justice. Instead, it is to be remembered for its striking blow to women’s rights. On this day, the United States Supreme Court pressed the rewind button on progress. The “rewind button” brings up memories of cassette recorders and VCRs from decades past. That thought seems utterly fitting for the occasion.
You see, on June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court decided that it wanted to take us back decades – nearly half a century – to January 21, 1973, the day before Roe v. Wade was decided. The Supreme Court decided that it wanted to take us back to a time where young women died from back alley procedures because there was no safe haven for their choices. The Supreme Court decided that it wanted to take us back to a time where women knowing their pregnancy wasn’t viable, were forced to endure the pain and heartache of being required to carry to term. The Supreme Court decided they wanted to take us back to a place and time where women felt their bodies and life choices were not their own.
According to former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, the Supreme Court “is charged with ensuring the American people the promise of equal justice under the law.” On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court failed to live up to its charge. The Supreme Court has failed the American people.
For the first time in U.S. history, the Supreme Court has taken away a previously guaranteed constitutional right—the right for a woman to make her own healthcare decisions without government interference . . . the right to abortion. A right that has been guaranteed for almost 50 years has been stripped away. The Supreme Court’s actions in Dobbs v. Jackson showed their complete disregard for the rights of millions of women who would immediately become victims of their states. In fact, in the eye of this storm that is Dobbs v. Jackson, “trigger” laws in nearly a dozen states went into effect. This meant that a woman’s right to choose was taken away the very day Dobbs v. Jackson was decided, with other anti-abortion laws becoming effective within the next 30 days.
With its decision, the Supreme Court has opened the flood gates for states to ban abortion unless the life of the mother is at risk. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, this will likely lead to almost half of the states in the U.S. passing the most restrictive laws possible. Clinics in Texas have already stopped providing abortions after Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an advisory that criminal prosecutions for those providing such services would begin immediately. Although many women will still be able to obtain the services they need by traveling to other states, many will not. Those women will be forced to either carry an unwanted pregnancy to term or obtain an illegal abortion which will put their own health at risk. Neither of these options are acceptable.
When the draft decision was leaked, it was a sign of times to come. However, actually seeing the final opinion solidifies the fears people had as they watched this Court form under the prior administration. In its decision overruling Roe v. Wade, the Court rejected the value of precedent, it rejected the right to privacy, and it paved the way for future bans. This Supreme Court opinion signaled what rights may remain on the chopping block. Will there be another strike at women’s rights or choices related to reproduction with future bans on the purchase of contraception? Will there be attacks on same sex relations and marriage? This opinion terrifyingly makes these things seem possible.
We must do everything in our power to protect and fight for our rights. We must do everything in our power to fight to win back this right that should not have been taken away. Yet, we must not stop there, as this will not be the end of threats to the rights of the American people. We must speak out against this decision and any other that takes away or threatens our Constitutional rights. We must vote for officials that want to protect all of our fundamental rights on both the state and national levels. We must not accept defeat in this fight or the next that’s sure to come.