The repeal of the right to abortion in the United States and its disproportionate impact on women of color


The conservative-majority US Supreme Court has upheld a Republican-backed Mississippi state law banning abortion after 15 weeks’ gestation by a vote of six to three. It also overruled Roe v. Wade by five votes to four. Chief Justice John Roberts backed upholding the Mississippi law but not overriding the right to abortion. Nine states have already banned abortion since Friday, June 24, and 17 more are expected to do so soon. We spoke with Michele Goodwin, chancellor of the University of California and professor of law at the Irvin School of Law, whose recent article for the New York Times is entitled “No, Judge Alito, Reproductive Justice Is in the constitution”.

Last Friday, June 24, the Supreme Court of the United States released, after much anticipation, the decision overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade who determined the constitutional right to abortion about 50 years ago. The conservative majority court upheld a Republican-backed Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy by six votes to three, while Roe’s reversal won five votes to four. Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative, supported keeping the Mississippi law but did not overturn Roe. Nine states have already banned abortion since this reversal and 17 more are expected to do the same soon.

In his rationale for the majority decision, Judge Samuel Alito wrote, “It is time to respect the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected officials”.

In their dissenting brief, the court’s three liberal justices said, “Sadly for this Court, but even more so for the millions of American women who lost fundamental constitutional protections today, we dissent.

Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas ruled for the majority but, in a concurring opinion, argued that other landmark rulings on gay rights and birth control rights should also be overturned.

In response to the court’s decision, thousands of people demonstrated across the United States over the weekend. Many protesters have been subject to arrests and police violence in Los Angeles and South Carolina.

Protester: This Supreme Court thinks it can impose on the country a law that the majority of its people do not support and that will overturn the basic human rights of more than half of the people who live here! I am furious!

Amy Goodman: -On Friday, June 24, in states where abortion was already banned, many clinics immediately stopped offering abortion services, saying it was the best way to protect staff and patients given the legal uncertainty. Many providers canceled appointments and urged patients to seek help elsewhere.

Meanwhile, reproductive rights activists are mobilizing to help patients with travel and other expenses.

Here is Renee Bracey Sherman, executive director of the We Testify organization, speaking at a rally last weekend.

Renee Bracey Sherman: -It will also be crucial for them to mobilize in four, five, six, seven, eight, nine months, when they arrest someone because their baby is stillborn or because they have a miscarriage or that they aborted theirs.

-In our next segment, we go to Missouri, which became the first state to enact its “trigger law” afterwards. Here’s Cori Bush, congresswoman from the Democratic state of Missouri, responding to the Supreme Court‘s decision.

Cori Bush: – Forty-nine… excuse me… 49 and they just canceled it.[Trente-sixmillionsdepersonnesvontêtreaffectéesetilsnousdisent”Pasquestion”Trente-sixmillionsdepersonnes”pasquestion”Trente-sixmillionsdepersonnesIls’agitd’uneCoursuprêmed’extrêmedroiteextrémistequirendunedécisionquiaffected’autrespersonnesquiaffecteleurviealorsquenoussavonsquelaprincipalecausededécèschezlesfemmesnoiresavant1973étaitlasepticémiedueàdesavortementsàrisqueEtmaintenantilsdisent:«C’estbondereveniràcepointRenvoyons-lesàcetteépoque»sachantquelesgenssouffrentdéjàetquecesservicessontnécessairescesontdesservicesdesantéC’estcommelasantémentaleC’estcommeallerchezlemédecinpoursefairesoignerd’unproblèmecardiaqueoud’unmaldedentsCesontdesservicesdesanté[Thirty-sixmillionpeoplearegoingtobeaffectedandthey’retellingus“Noway”Thirty-sixmillionpeople“noway”ytogobacktothatpointLet’ssendthembacktothosetimes”knowingthatpeoplearerealreadysufferingandthatthoseservicesarenecessarytheyarehealthservicesIt’slikementalhealthIt’slikegoingtothedoctortogetcareforaheartconditionoratoothacheTheyarehealthservices[Trente-sixmillionsdepersonnesvontêtreaffectéesetilsnousdisent”Pasquestion”Trente-sixmillionsdepersonnes”pasquestion”Trente-sixmillionsdepersonnesIls’agitd’uneCoursuprêmed’extrêmedroiteextrémistequirendunedécisionquiaffected’autrespersonnesquiaffecteleurviealorsquenoussavonsquelaprincipalecausededécèschezlesfemmesnoiresavant1973étaitlasepticémiedueàdesavortementsàrisqueEtmaintenantilsdisent:«C’estbondereveniràcepointRenvoyons-lesàcetteépoque»sachantquelesgenssouffrentdéjàetquecesservicessontnécessairescesontdesservicesdesantéC’estcommelasantémentaleC’estcommeallerchezlemédecinpoursefairesoignerd’unproblèmecardiaqueoud’unmaldedentsCesontdesservicesdesanté[Thirty-sixmillionpeoplearegoingtobeaffectedandthey’retellingus“Noway”Thirty-sixmillionpeople“noway”Thirty-sixmillionpeopleThisisanextremistextremeright-wingSupremeCourtmakingadecisionthataffectsotherpeoplethataffectstheirliveswhenweknowthattheleadingcauseofdeathamongblackwomenbefore1973wassepsisfromunsafeabortionsAndnowtheysay“It’sokaytogobacktothatpointLet’ssendthembacktothosetimes”knowingthatpeoplearealreadysufferingandthatthoseservicesarenecessarytheyarehealthservicesIt’slikementalhealthIt’slikegoingtothedoctortogetcareforaheartconditionoratoothacheTheyarehealthservices

– In the past, Congresswoman Bush revealed that she was raped and had an abortion as a teenager.

President Biden criticized Friday’s decision and pledged to protect access to abortion pills and contraceptives. Meanwhile, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren and 25 other senators wrote a letter to Biden urging him to open federally owned enclaves in Republican states for abortion clinics. Here’s Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press.

bq. Ocasio-Cortez: – I think the president and the Democratic Party need to realize that this is not just a crisis of the Roe case, but a crisis of our democracy. The Supreme Court has significantly exceeded its authority.

-To talk more about the issue, we have two guests. From Philadelphia, we’re joined by Kathryn “Kitty” Kolbert, co-founder of the Center for Reproductive Rights and attorney who argued the landmark case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey before the Supreme Court in 1992, which upheld Roe v. Wade. She is co-author of the book “Control Over Women: What We Must Do to Save Reproductive Freedom”.

We’re also joined by Michele Goodwin, professor of law at the University of California, Irvine School of Law, host of Ms. magazine’s On the Issues with Michele Goodwin podcast, and author of the book “Control Over the Womb: Invisible Women and the Criminalization of Maternity”. Her new article for the New York Times is titled “No, Judge Alito, Reproductive Justice Is in the Constitution.”

Welcome to Democracy Now! Professor Goodwin, let’s start with you. How do you react to the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade afterwards, after almost 50 years?

Michele Goodwin: Well, it’s a pleasure to be back, Amy, on this show.

The decision, like the leaked draft, has numerous errors and omissions. He makes a selective, even opportunistic, reading of the history of the United States. It doesn’t focus… in all of its so-called originalism, in all of its so-called textualism, it oddly ignores the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. It even ignores the first sentence of the 14th Amendment.

And that’s what my article in the New York Times is about. When Congress abolished, by ratifying the 13th Amendment, slavery and involuntary servitude, it was not only abolishing it for black men. They understood very well that involuntary servitude, for black women in America, meant involuntary sexual assaults and consequent rapes and pregnancies, because black women were forced to work not only in the fields, but also under the weight of another type of slave chains, such as sexual subordination and procreation.

It was well known. Congressional abolitionists who passed the 13th Amendment have spoken and written about it. Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts was nearly beaten to death in the halls of Congress two days later after delivering a speech about the rape of black women. Sojourner Truth talked about it. It was clear to everyone. The New York Times has published articles about it. So this idea that no one thought of involuntary servitude as being related to involuntary procreation is just plain nonsense. It was written everywhere. Everyone knew this was one of the devastating effects of slavery in the United States. And it was abolished with the 13th amendment. And then later, the 14th Amendment recognized that black women continued to suffer psychological, physical and reproductive violence in the southern states of the country. Their children were denied citizenship. Their children were kidnapped, abducted. And that’s why the 14th Amendment was ratified.

So my article looks at all of this for the Supreme Court and our country to remember, because otherwise black women would be essentially wiped out of the Constitution. And by removing black women from the Constitution, we ultimately remove all women from the Constitution, because the 13th Amendment and the 14th Amendment not only freed black women from these shackles, but also white women.

None of this is taken into account by the originalists and the textualists of the Supreme Court, who seem to ignore all of this and now leave us with a country where there are free states, where people can freely decide about their bodies , and where there are other States where this freedom does not exist. And we can’t forget that this is very much tied to the patterns of slavery and segregation in the United States.

-Tell us about the way forward now. People of color are most affected by the lack of health care that will exist when abortion is banned in one state after another. Can you talk about the Duke University study on maternal mortality among black women and how much higher that rate is compared to pregnant white women?

Michele Goodwin: ……………. The United States ranks 55th in the world in terms of maternal mortality. It is out of league with Germany, France and their peer nations. Instead, it is in the company of countries that still publicly flog and stone women.

In 2016, data from the same Supreme Court showed that women were 14 times more likely to die from carrying a pregnancy to term than from an abortion. And if you cross this data with the racial question, you see the horror behind it all, and yet the Supreme Court has chosen to ignore this data. In Mississippi, black women are 118 times more likely to die from carrying a pregnancy to term than from an abortion. According to Mississippi’s own data and that of its Department of Health, 80% of cardiac deaths in that state are among black women. Black women don’t make up 80% of women in the state, but they do make up 80% of cardiac deaths during pregnancy. And nationally, they are three and a half times more likely to die of pregnancy problems than white women.

And that’s not all. If we look at some counties in these anti-abortion states, we find that black women may be five, ten, or fifteen times more likely to die from being forced to carry a pregnancy to term than from having access to abortion. . And this is very obvious and alarming. And the most impressive thing is that the Supreme Court does not take these facts into account.

Edited and translated by Igor Moreno Unanua and Iván Hincapié, Democracy Now

The original article can be found here

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