The constitutional right to abortion is history in the United States. The Supreme Court has knocked down this Friday half a century of a precedent set by the sentence of the case Roe contra Wade, which in 1973 gave federal status to the freedom of women to terminate pregnancy.
The decision returns to the 50 states the power to legislate on the subject. It is estimated that 26 are willing to repeal it.
On a historic day, the high court has issued the ruling corresponding to the case Dobbs contra Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a reproductive health clinic in the Mississippi capital. The constitutionality of a law of that State of 2018, which prohibits most interventions after the first 15 weeks of pregnancy, was being resolved.
Basically, the continuity of the precedent of Roe contra Wade. By six votes in favor and three against, the most conservative Supreme Court in 80 years has fulfilled the dream of the country’s anti-abortion organizations, which have spent decades waiting and pressing for this moment to come.
It cannot be said that it was a surprise. The unprecedented leak, at the beginning of May, of a draft of the majority opinion of the judges on the subject, written in a very harsh tone by Samuel Alito, a member of the most conservative wing, counted then (it is estimated that it was written in February) with support from Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh, Clarence Thomas, and Neil Gorsuch. The President of the Supreme Court, Judge John Roberts, has also joined at this time.
Liberal magistrates Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer, who announced his retirement in January and already have a replacement, have voted against a decision that affects the lives of some 36 million women of reproductive age.
The sentence literally splits the country in two. Prominent associations in favor of the right of women to decide, such as the Guttmacher Institute or Planned Parenthood, calculate that after the fall of Roe, 26 (of the 50) States will end up prohibiting abortion to a greater or lesser extent.
They include Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Thirteen of those 26 states have prepared texts known as trigger laws, which could be activated immediately or in the coming days or weeks. Two places, Texas and Oklahoma, already have such restrictive laws in force, approved in recent months and before the imminence of the Supreme Court ruling, that they are equivalent to a total ban.
The map that this regressive wave threatens to leave behind presents a large stain in the center of the country with some exceptional areas (such as Colorado, New Mexico or, for now, Kansas).
That “desert”, as Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, defined it in a recent conversation with EL PAÍS, will be flanked by two permissive strips on both coasts.
As some states have gone further in their harassment of women’s rights, others have seen their clinics flooded with patients from places where the bans have gone into effect.
The most economically vulnerable sectors will also be the most affected by the scenario that emerges in the United States starting today. Traveling to other places to have an abortion is not within the reach of all women.
To the price of the intervention itself, we must add the trip, the fuel (through the roof in the America of inflation) and the lodging; In many of the places where it will still be allowed, the law requires that at least one day pass between the first consultation and the intervention, which delays the process and increases expenses.
Many will resort, experts predict, to the alternative of abortion pills, which are less safe for patients. In the harshest states, tools are being designed to prevent them from being purchased online, by return mail.
With the idea of subjecting the right to interruption of pregnancy by law, and not leaving it at the mercy of the decisions of the Supreme Court, which registers a superconservative majority of six against three never seen since the 1930s, which is very difficult to undo, given that the posts are for life, has flirted with the Democratic Party in the Senate in recent weeks.
The upper house recently voted for an initiative that it knew was doomed to failure and that aspired to convert the right to abortion into a federal standard. The Democrats, who have 50 of the 100 seats, were far from the 60 that are necessary by virtue of the tradition of filibustering, which requires qualified majorities for issues of this magnitude.
It was not even possible to garner the support of all his people: Joe Manchin III, a senator from West Virginia, spoke against it, leaving the score at 49-51.
Last week, both parties did agree to carry out a rule that protects Supreme Court judges, after the leak of the draft encouraged protests by people in favor of women’s reproductive freedom in front of the homes of some conservative magistrates.
Last week a man was arrested near the Washington home of one of them, Brett Kavanaugh. He was armed and confessed his intention to murder him.
Filtering to the web Politico, dedicated to reporting on the insides of Washington, fell weeks ago like a bomb on Washington’s legislative and media ecosystem. Roberts announced the opening of an investigation to locate the point where an unprecedented information leak had occurred in 233 years of existence of the high court.
Nothing has transpired about the result of these investigations, although the climate of mistrust that has spread within the Supreme Court has been noted. It is not even clear what the person who provided the draft to the web intended Politico.
If the flight occurred in the conservative ranks, perhaps it sought to spread a still photo of the positions of one and the other to ensure that they did not change along the way.
If the leak came from the liberal side, it was likely to put pressure on the conservatives who have ultimately voted for it, three of whom were appointed during Donald Trump’s term, an unheard of number for a single president and in a single legislature.
He appointed them with the express intention of placing magistrates on the court willing to overthrow the precedent Roe contra Wade. Today, Trump has gotten away with it.
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