WASHINGTON – On the sidewalk outside the United States Supreme Court building on Wednesday, an artist named Mital wept as she spoke about how the concept of abortion access became personal to her.
“I was sexually assaulted two months ago,” she said. “And I feel very lucky that I don’t have to have an abortion, that I’m not pregnant. But thank God I had the option. ”
He is 29 years old, has lived his entire life in a country where the 1973 court decision in Roe v. Wade guaranteed access to abortion, and says she feels lucky to also have grown up with a mother who taught her about birth control and options.
But it was their recent traumatic experience that made them realize the personal stakes on this political issue. “It was a really scary time in my life,” he said, “but it wasn’t the end of the world, because I live in a place where I had that option and I didn’t have to think about the worst-case scenario.”
That’s what led her to the steps of the Supreme Court building on Wednesday, with hand-painted posters depicting a uterus and reading “My body, my choice,” where she joined other protesters to express her support for the right. access to abortion. “Whether you choose not to have an abortion or choose to have it, it must be safe and accessible to you,” she said.
For the first time in her life, the first time in the lives of generations of Americans, it seems likely that the recognized right to abortion in the United States could be taken away very soon. The Supreme Court was hearing arguments Wednesday in the Mississippi case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, which seeks to overturn Roe’s precedent that prevents governments from restricting abortion before the point of fetal viability (which is considered approximately 24 weeks of pregnancy). . The Mississippi law at issue in the Dobbs case, which was declared unconstitutional by lower courts, would prohibit abortions after 15 weeks.
The fact that the conservative-dominated court chose to hear the case has fueled speculation that it is prepared not only to allow Mississippi law to stand, but, in doing so, to overturn the decision in Roe v. Wade. That could allow other states to impose their own restrictions on abortion, or even ban it altogether.
Nearly one in four women in the U.S. (23.7 percent) will have had an abortion at age 45, a statistic that the United States Attorney General raised in her arguments before the court. But while 59 percent of Americans They say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, opposition to legal abortion has become the defining issue for the Republican party since the 1980s.
Wednesday’s hearing drew thousands of protesters representing both sides of the issue. Those like Mital carried signs that read “Protect Access to Abortion” and “Hands Off Roe.” Alongside them, anti-abortion protesters displayed images of dismembered fetuses, along with posters that read, in various ways, “God hates hands that shed innocent blood,” “Queer, atheist, pro-life,” and “I am the post- Roe “. Generation.”
Laura Lane, a college student from Jackson, Mississippi, said she grew up in a Christian community where abortion was always viewed as a bad thing. But only in the last semester have members of his student anti-abortion group been hopeful that the ban they hoped for will become a reality. “It is a great historical moment,” he said.
Lane said she views the problem differently from those who see access to abortion as a fundamental right of women. “I think it just depends on whether or not you value life, and you see a child in the womb, and not just a group of cells, because that’s definitely not the case. We were all there once, you know, ”Lane said. “Basically, we are here as a voice for those who have no voice, those who cannot yet defend their lives.”
During roughly two hours of oral argument, most of the court judges seemed inclined to uphold Mississippi law. While it may be difficult to guess the outcome based on what the judges say during arguments, the tone and content of the questions from five of the conservatives suggested that they were inclined to overturn Roe’s decision. Chief Justice John Roberts asked many questions specifically about the override of the viability threshold, possibly looking for a middle ground to allow the precedent protecting the right to abortion to be partially maintained, while allowing the 15 law to be maintained. Mississippi weeks and the like.
Much of the judges’ attention was focused on a fundamental principle of the court: that it should not annul precedents unless something substantial has changed in the situation. The conservative judges cited the famous overturned precedents of the past in search of a justification for doing the same, while the three liberal justices argued that it would be dangerous to overturn this when the only thing that had changed was the ideological makeup of the court.
“Will this institution survive the stench this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are only political acts?” Judge Sonia Sotomayor asked.
Although the arguments ended on Wednesday afternoon, the court is not expected to rule on the case until next June or July.
On the sidewalk in front of the court, a woman named Melissa from Takoma Park, Maryland, who said she was thankful that her sister was able to have an abortion, faced the prospect of the court’s decision with a sense of “dread.” though the number of pro-abortion protesters said there was reason for hope. Whatever the legal decision, there will be “absolutely” political work to be done, he said.
“I hope it is a moment of awakening for the people. I know, it has been a moment of awakening for me, ”he said. “What could and would happen if Roe v. Wade is annulled?”
The Americans will soon find out.