The Week (US)

Abortion: Is this the end for Roe?


For nearly half a century, Roe vs. Wade has guaranteed the right of American women to legal abortion, said Elie Mystal in TheNation .com, but the Supreme Court has just launched a “frontal attack” on that precedent. The court last week agreed to hear a challenge to a Mississipp­i law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The eagerness of a court now dominated by conservati­ves to even consider the Mississipp­i law—which every lower court tossed out as unconstitu­tional— means at least four justices, and probably five or six, are ready to uproot the central finding of Roe and the related 1992 Casey ruling: States cannot restrict abortions if they place “an undue burden” on women before the point of “fetal viability,” or roughly 24 weeks. The day progressiv­es have dreaded is here, said Julie Kay and Kathryn Kolbert in The newest three justices—Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett—were each groomed by the Federalist Society and handpicked by Donald Trump with the goal of overturnin­g Roe in mind. Together with Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, the “five ultra-conservati­ve justices” don’t even need the vote of the more cautious Chief Justice John Roberts to deliver a prize right-wingers have been pursuing for four decades. “Roe is going to fall.”

Let’s hope so, said Kevin Williamson in NationalRe­ Reasonable people can disagree about whether abortion should be legal, but honest pro-choicers admit Roe was an “indefensib­le decision.” To legalize abortion nationwide, the sophists of the 1973 court declared that the taking of unborn human life is a private act, and then invented a “right to privacy” mentioned nowhere in the Constituti­on. We pro-lifers “dream of an America where all unborn children are protected in law and welcomed in life,” said Ramesh

Ponnuru in But reversing Roe will only toss the issue back to the states, where voters’ elected representa­tives can give them whatever “abortion laws they favor.”

Both pro-lifers and pro-choicers might wind up disappoint­ed, said Jonah Goldberg in TheDispatc­ The court may have chosen the Mississipp­i case so as to move the point at which states can restrict abortion to around 15 weeks. This would “be denounced as a calamity” by abortion rights activists. But given that 90 percent of abortions take place before 15 weeks, it would arguably make “the right to most abortions more constituti­onally and politicall­y secure than ever before.” But even a partial rollback of abortion rights would inflame a highly emotional issue even further, said Ed Kilgore in If the “mostly settled” framework of the last 48 years is discarded, it will give way to a “savage landscape” of new legal and political battles over abortion laws in dozens of states.

American women “will pay a heavy price” if the court overturns Roe, said Linda Greenhouse in The New York Times, but so will the court itself, which will have torched its own “institutio­nal legitimacy.” For years, we’ve listened to Supreme Court nominees mouth reassuring platitudes about “the importance of precedent and the duty of judges to put personal preference­s aside,” said David Von Drehle in The Washington Post. Those claims are about to be tested. Is the Supreme Court an institutio­n whose authority is built on a firm foundation of previous rulings, or is it just another partisan body that can reverse course with “a simple majority of justices at any given moment?” As the court tees up its reconsider­ation of Roe, “we’re about to find out.”

 ??  ?? A four-decade project may soon succeed.
A four-decade project may soon succeed.

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