Following the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion showing that the justices appear ready to fully overturn Roe v. Wade, groups including Planned Parenthood, Women’s March, MoveOn, Liberate Abortion, and Ultraviolet are staging an all-day protest on the steps of the court and hosting rallies across the country on Tuesday and pre-planned rallies on May 14.
People should absolutely go—by all means, unleash some primal screams—but they should not expect that it will change much about the draft opinion. In addition to marching and yelling, people should donate to abortion funds and other groups helping people get care and helping them if they face criminalization for their pregnancy outcomes.
Planned Parenthood itself apparently thinks mass protests could alter the outcome, with Kelley Robinson, executive director of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, telling a Washington Post reporter: “I think everything is possible with the will of the people.”
I guess, but these are unelected, life-tenured justices on the brink of achieving a decades-long victory—they have very little reason to care. Even if Chief Justice John Roberts is able to peel off one or two of the justices who reportedly agree with Justice Samuel Alito’s horrific draft opinion, and get them to side instead with Roberts’ reasoning, the results would still be disastrous for people who can get pregnant.
Roberts reportedly doesn’t favor overturning Roe outright, according to CNN, which suggests that he’d prefer to “only” uphold the Mississippi 15-week abortion ban at issue in the case. (He asked questions during the arguments that suggested this was his position.) But since Roe and successive cases said that states can’t ban abortion before fetal viability, which is at about 22 to 24 weeks of pregnancy, upholding a 15-week ban overturns Roe in practice. As New York’s Irin Carmon wrote on Twitter on Monday: “To be clear, this would mean Roberts overturning Roe but pretending he isn’t.” Some supreme gaslighting!
Certain states are preparing for this predictable Roberts ploy: Both Texas and Oklahoma have passed bills saying that if the court overturns Roe in whole or part, their state will automatically ban abortion. So, if protests lead to a more narrow Roberts opinion that doesn’t explicitly overturn Roe but ends the viability standard, the results will still be awful. And that is the best outcome here—there is exactly zero chance the court will say “just kidding, we’ve struck down the Mississippi 15-week ban, pretend this never happened.”
So, sure, go yell and make your opposition known. Then also help people get abortions because it’s hard enough to get care right now and an even worse reality is coming in less than two months, well before the midterm elections change anything in either direction.
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