Why attacks on abortion rights and the right to vote go hand in hand

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Washington
CNN

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A takeaway from Judge Samuel Alito’s leaked draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade: The conservative majority on the United States Supreme Court is eager to prevent people from governing their own bodies and is willing to use the most bizarre logic to achieve this goal.

Another: attacks on the right to abortion and the right to vote go hand in hand.

“Roe got it all wrong from the start. His reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision had dire consequences,” Alito asserts in the draft. “And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have inflamed the debate and deepened the division.”

Then Alito twists the knife.

“It is time to respect the Constitution and to return the question of abortion to the elected representatives of the people,” he wrote.

The elect of the people. Alito seems to ignore the deep inconsistency between the will of the people and the direction of some legislatures.

Even in the reddest states, “the share of people who think abortion should be permanently illegal peaks at about 25%,” Natalie Jackson, research director at the Public Religion Research Institute, recently said at the Los Angeles Times. And yet, propelled by partisan gerrymanders and voter suppression, a number of Republican-led state legislatures could pass laws their constituents don’t want.

In other words, to understand the conservative movement’s attack on abortion rights, one must also consider its efforts to restrict access to the vote.

And if Alito’s draft opinion is delivered, the consequences could go beyond abortion. In the United States, many other rights – including the right to marry a person of the same sex and the right to use contraception – depend in part on the same legal reasoning used to enshrine the right to abortion.

As a result, many fear it’s not just Roe who could be cast.

Although abortion rights are not always among the top political priorities of voters, there has long been a tendency to isolate the issue from the issue of suffrage. That impulse couldn’t be worse, according to New York University law professor Melissa Murray.

“You don’t get a restrictive law like HB 1510, the law at issue in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, or as SB 8, the law that has basically plagued federal courts for a few months now and blocked abortion access. in Texas, unless you gerrymander the districts of your state so much that your legislature doesn’t necessarily reflect the breadth of the population,” Murray told CNN.

There’s also the problem of voter suppression, which disproportionately disadvantages people of color and separates the ruling Republican Party from public reaction — a key ingredient of democracy.

“You don’t have the ability to oppose the passage of these restrictive laws in your home country if there are repressive election laws – and of course there are. are repressive election laws, in part because the Supreme Court struck down the Voting Rights Act‘s preclearance regime,” Murray said. “The court has absented itself from the issue of partisan gerrymandering, so there is no federal judicial solution. It is really up to the States to solve these problems. And it’s kind of like allowing a burglar to fix what he stole when he broke into your house.

It’s hard to overstate the dangers of knocking Roe down. Economists warn that “the financial consequences of refusing an abortion are as great or greater than those of eviction, loss of health insurance, hospitalization or exposure to flooding due to to a hurricane.

Moreover, Amanda Stevenson, professor of sociology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, believes that without abortion rights, pregnancy-related deaths will increase dramatically. To put it a little more bluntly, “denying people an abortion increases the number of deaths because staying pregnant is more dangerous than having an abortion,” Stevenson recently told USA Today.

The reproductive rights movement has long served people of color inadequately, especially those who lack resources. In her 1981 book, “Women, Race & Class,” Angela Davis describes how the “almost lily-white” campaign for abortion rights of the 1970s “often failed to give voice to women who wanted abortion. to the right to legal abortions while lamenting the social conditions (particularly poverty and other types of inequality) that prevented them from having more children.

But this group has the most to lose if Roe falls.

“I have been in this movement for almost 20 years. We worked hard not to have people’s reality in front of us,” Cherisse Scott, founder and CEO of SisterReach, a Memphis-based reproductive justice organization, told CNN, referring to the pre-Roe era. If the draft becomes the court’s final opinion, “it will destroy the work that generations of black women and others have done to try to have some level of control over our bodies.”

It is reckless to argue, as Alito does in the draft notice, that Roe’s override can be reversed so that the decision has no effect on many other rights that Americans cherish.

On the one hand, if you overturn precedent nearly half a century old, that would indicate that the requirements of stare decisis — the doctrine that the court should generally follow its precedents — aren’t really requirements at all.

On the other hand, “all the complaints that Alito musters to discredit Roe could easily be brought against any of these other marriage or birth control precedents,” Murray said. “The idea that something is a constitutional apostasy because it is not explicitly listed in the text of the Constitution or because the practice is not rooted in the traditions of the United States could be said about many things, such as interracial marriage, which until 1967 was outlawed in many states, or the use of contraceptives, which until 1965 was criminalized in many states.

Jim Obergefell, the plaintiff named in the landmark 2015 case that legalized same-sex marriage in the United States, echoed some of those concerns.

“This decision, and what Alito has to say about marriage equality, is a clear call to all those who oppose marriage equality, who oppose LGBTQ equality, whether they have a friend on the ground. More than a friend. And that they should be happy or they should be ready to come after marriage equality,” Obergefell, a gay rights activist, said earlier. this month.

Mary Ziegler, a law professor at Florida State University, explained that while she doesn’t think the court would immediately strike down, say, marriage equality, she’s much less sure what the court might do in five or 10 years.

“There’s a good analogy to when the court first said you can’t constitutionally punish same-sex couples for having sex. There was a similar kind of disclaimer, where it was like, “Oh, it’s not really about equality in marriage – because it’s about public recognition whereas it’s about what people do in the privacy of their homes,” she told CNN. “At the time, you had conservatives dissenting and basically saying, ‘We don’t believe you. That may be true today, but we’ll see, in the long run, if it holds up. And then in 2015, the same person who wrote the opinion on decriminalizing same-sex intimacy (Anthony Kennedy) wrote the opinion on how marriage equality is constitutionally required. I feel like it’s a bit of a similar moment here.

Alito’s draft opinion is, of course, a draft. While it likely indicates the direction of the court’s final opinion, some aspects of that opinion may change.

Ziegler said that in the coming weeks she will be watching the tone of the court closely, however insignificant it may seem.

“This (the draft review) sounds sarcastic, angry – not the review you would write if you were trying to downplay negative feedback,” she explained. “I think it’s important to see if there’s still that kind of snub because it sends a bigger message about where the court is. If the final notice reads: “What are you going to do about it?” and nobody does anything about it, it’s going to have ramifications even beyond abortion.

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