The court’s three remaining liberal justices—Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan—delivered a solemn yet blistering dissent in response to their colleagues’ decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and the constitutional protection for abortion care. “Across a vast array of circumstances, a State will be able to impose its moral choice on a woman and coerce her to give birth to a child,” the trio wrote in a triple-bylined dissent on Friday morning.
The case stems from a 15-week abortion ban out of Mississippi, but because of the idiosyncratic nature of the Supreme Court, the question at hand became: Was Roe decided correctly? The court’s conservative ghouls masquerading as our nation’s top legal minds said no, it wasn’t, and “that from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of,” according to the dissenting opinion.
The liberals are clear eyed about what is to come: “The Mississippi law at issue here bars abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy. Under the majority’s ruling, though, another State’s law could do so after ten weeks, or five or three or one—or, again, from the moment of fertilization. States have already passed such laws, in anticipation of today’s ruling. More will follow.”
The dissent also points out how expansive the majority’s holding is, despite it having Bush v. Gore this-isn’t-actually-precendent energy. “Most threatening of all, no language in today’s decision stops the Federal Government from prohibiting abortions nationwide, once again from the moment of conception and without exceptions for rape or incest,” the dissent notes.
Because the Senate has failed to even start debate twice on a bill for federal protections for abortion provision and access, a nationwide ban is a real possibility if Democrats do not retain their majorities come November. We should all be terrified at what’s to come.
The dissent rightly points out that poor people will be the most vulnerable. People who cannot finance their way to an abortion will be tied to partners who are abusive or just plain wrong for them. People who cannot obtain an abortion will lose income over their lifetime. They will be subject to the horrendous things a body does to bring a fetus to term. Maternal mortality in America is no fucking joke.
One of the most salient lines of argumentation comes early in the dissent, and I want to present it in full:
As of today, this Court holds, a State can always force a woman to give birth, prohibiting even the earliest abortions. A State can thus transform what, when freely undertaken, is a wonder into what, when forced, may be a nightmare. Some women, especially women of means, will find ways around the State’s assertion of power. Others—those without money or childcare or the ability to take time off from work—will not be so fortunate. Maybe they will try an unsafe method of abortion, and come to physical harm, or even die. Maybe they will undergo pregnancy and have a child, but at significant personal or familial cost. At the least, they will incur the cost of losing control of their lives. The Constitution will, today’s majority holds, provide no shield, despite its guarantees of liberty and equality for all.”
The dissenting three justices know that abortion is the fundamental building block of being a free person. The ability to decide when and if to become pregnant and parent is at the bedrock of our ability to be free. Using the word disappointing to describe how the justices feel is an understatement. “Respecting a woman as an autonomous being, and granting her full equality, meant giving her substantial choice over this most personal and most consequential of all life decisions,” the trio wrote.
Instead, six politicians in black robes with lifetime appointments have made the decision for us.