Friday’s decision by the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade likely surprised no one. A leaked draft of the court’s majority opinion in May provided an unpleasant look at what would come in a few short weeks. And yet, much like watching a loved one battling a terminal illness, the death of Roe v. Wade and a women’s right to choose, hit those deeply concerned for the wellbeing of this nation like a ton of bricks. There was no shock factor involved, simply a realization, an admittance that the patriarchy had prevailed.
This is America: Loud and wrong, self-righteous and ass-backward. It’s always been that. Even with its promise of freedom, this “Sweet Land of Liberty” has shown time and time again that the real dream has always been power — to posess it, to wield it at one’s own discretion and to use it to elevate one’s own beliefs and stature over others. In a world where individual liberties are perpetually being advanced, SCOTUS’ decision to give into the GOP’s power play and restrict the freedoms of child-bearing people, has been both anticlimatic and deeply concerning—not solely because of its implications for women, but because restricting freedoms has always been a slippery slope.
What America is witnessing live and up close is its own version of “First They Came.” And the Supreme Court Of The United States appears all to happy to play host to this very dangerous game. On Friday Justice Clarence Thomas, a man whose moral character has been in question for more than three decades, made it clear that the court’s plan is to not stop at weakening abortion rights, but to also debilitate gay rights and contraception rights. These “substantive due process decisions” as Thomas refers to them, are “demonstrably erroneous” he says, adding that the court has a duty to “correct the error established in those precedents.”
Bestowing this level of power on a court that is both deeply conservative, and in no way representative of the country, sets the nation up for subsequent rulings that negate popular opinion. Polls have consistently shown that the vast majority—upwards of 85 percent of American voters, think abortion should be legal in some or all circumstances. But because of Friday’s decision, made by six powerful justices, child-bearing people in more than 13 states with “trigger bans” will lose that right altogether. And for Black adults in those states, the decision will prove particular impactful.
All sides of the abortion rights debate have acknwledged that the people most affected by the overturning of Roe v. Wade will be Black adults. It’s why abortion advocates have been demonstrably clear that abortion is a racial justice issue. This decision, if not successfully challenged, will disproportionately impact Black families and communities along the lines of economics, health and education. After all, a woman’s ability to take care of her household is directly tied to her ability to make decisions about her own body.
Thomas’ direct mention of contraception rights in his opinion demonstrates just how duplicitous the court can be and how dismissive it is about the negative implications for Black people. The court’s longest serving justice has gone on record saying that he believes abortions are a “tool of modern-day eugenics”—a way to lessen the Black population. And Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., added in that “a highly disproportionate percentage of aborted fetuses are Black.” Yet, research shows that much of this is due to a lack of access to contraceptives, and a lack of education on how to effectively use contraceptives—not a hyper-focus on marketing abortions to these communities. Taking away contraceptive rights would not help the community they claim to have concern for. It would most definitely hurt it.
Beyond that, if the court was truly concerned about Black babies and Black children, they would question their alignment with a political party that has fought the expansion of healthcare and government programs that would ensure a mother is fully supported in bringing new life into this world. And last week when SCOTUS struck down a New York State law that restricted people’s ability to carry guns in public, they would have considered the fact that gun violence remains the leading cause of death for Black children and teens.
Power in the wrong hands can be disastrous. If Friday’s decision on abortion rights did not make that clear, another ruling will. This nation is in a fight to protect freedom. And though the powers that be have won an important battle, it’s up to the people to win this war.