Posted: June 27, 2022
By Amanda Klasing
In a predicted but nonetheless stunning opinion issued today, the United States Supreme Court overturned the constitutional guarantee of abortion access in the United States, reversing half a century of court protection for this fundamental right.
Access to abortion is a right critical to guaranteeing a wide range of other human rights, including the rights to life and security of person, privacy, nondiscrimination, and freedom from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, among others.
However, while the court has for now removed constitutional protection for access to abortion, the United States has international human rights obligations to ensure it. These are embedded in international treaties ratified by the United States, and the right of access to safe and legal abortion is rooted in international human rights law.
While constitutional law scholars and experts are still digging deeply into the complexities of the court’s ruling, what is clear from the opinion written by Justice Alito is that the Court has held that the United States Constitution does not confer a right to access abortion. In so stating, the Court is overruling the landmark case Roe v. Wade and subsequent case Casey v. Planned Parenthood. With its ruling, the court is returning the authority to regulate abortion “to the people and their elected representatives.”
Research has shown that when abortion is banned or restricted, abortions do not cease, they just move underground. This increases the risk both of unsafe procedures and that people will be reported to police or prosecuted for suspected abortions. This is likely to particularly affect people who have historically had less access to health services due to discrimination and other systemic barriers, including adolescents; Black, Indigenous, and other people of color; people living in rural communities or in poverty; and people discriminated against based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.
Human Rights Watch research has also shown that abortion bans can lead health professionals, sometimes fearing prosecution, to refer patients with obstetric emergencies or miscarriages – which look like abortions – to the police, making it difficult for doctors to do their jobs and provide their patients with the best standard of care.
As the dissenters noted, unlike the United States, countries around the world, from Thailand to Ireland to Mexico, have moved to expand legal abortion, and this decision leaves the US as a human rights outlier. As Human Rights Watch, along with Amnesty International and Global Justice Center, advised the US Supreme Court in an amicus brief, “[n]o abortion law is written on a blank slate. The United States can and should learn from the experiences and outcomes from other nations.”
Those experiences have taught us that the US – which shockingly already has the highest maternal mortality rate among at least 10 other wealthy countries – should brace for maternal mortality and morbidity to rise, particularly among Black people and people living in poverty.
In one blow, the court has decimated protections for a key right that is closely bound up with gender equality, racial justice, and basic economic and social rights, instead opening the door for government control of one of the most private decisions someone can consider.
Make no mistake; what will unfold will be a human rights tragedy.
Protests, Outrage Follow Supreme Court Roe v. Wade Ruling
Tanu T. Henry | California Black Media-Posted June 27, 2022
Last week’s Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, the 51-year-old decision that guaranteed a woman’s right to an abortion, continues to draw outrage. It has sparked protests around the country and united opponents determined to use their political power to push back against it.
Critics say the decision disregards decades of legal precedent and opens the door for nearly half of U.S. states who have stated their desire — or instituted proceedings — to ban the procedure.
Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom released a statement showing his displeasure with the ruling and spoke out against anti-abortion
policies in Texas, which is among the 11 states that have banned or enacted restrictions on abortion.
“I am outraged by yesterday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing Texas’s ban on most abortion services to remain in place, and largely endorsing Texas’s scheme to insulate its law from the fundamental protections of Roe v. Wade,” the governor’s statement read.
“But if states can now shield their laws from review by the federal courts that compare assault weapons to Swiss Army knives, then California will use that authority to protect people’s lives, where Texas used it to put women in harm’s way,” the statement continued.
Newsom followed with a tweet reiterating California’s commitment to providing abortion care and protections for women.
“Abortion is legal in California. It will remain that way. I just signed a bill that makes our state a safe haven for women across the nation. We will not cooperate with any states that attempt to prosecute women or doctors for receiving or providing reproductive care,” he wrote.
To hold gun manufacturers accountable, Newsom says he plans to use tactics similar to the ones Texas employed to target, attack and box in abortion providers.
“I have directed my staff to work with the Legislature and the Attorney General on a bill that would create a right of action allowing private citizens to seek injunctive relief, and statutory damages of at least
$10,000 per violation plus costs and attorney’s fees, against anyone who manufactures, distributes, or sells an assault weapon or ghost gun kit or parts in the State of California. If the most efficient way to keep these devastating weapons off our streets is to add the threat of private lawsuits, we should do just that,” Newsom said.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee District 13 (Oakland) released a statement listing steps individuals outraged by the Supreme Court’s decision can take to fight back. In it, she also blasted lawmakers responsible for taking away citizens’ rights to make their own healthcare decisions.
“Now, we must support local clinics, health providers, abortion funds and nonprofits doing the groundwork to connect those in
states with draconian abortion bans to safe-haven states like California or provide access to medication abortion. We must ensure safe abortions are still accessible to the most vulnerable,” Lee said.
“This is NOT over. We must fight this in state legislatures. We must organize and elect a pro-choice Senate in the midterms and every election thereafter.
Rep. Karen Bass District 37(Los Angeles), who is running for mayor of Los Angeles, said biases related to race and class are factors that influence access to health care.
“Today is a devastating day in the history of this country, especially for the most vulnerable communities. The reality is that affluent women will always have the right to choose even in states that establish bans on
abortion,” she said. “Today’s decision is an attack on low-income women and women of color by the same people who don’t believe in accessible childcare or affordable food programs in schools. The idea that we are still fighting in 2022 for our right to access to reproductive health care — a battle that was resolved fifty years ago—is an absolute tragedy and sets a potentially unconscionable precedent of decisions impacting equal rights under the law.”
Alexis McGill Johnson, President of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, warned that the Supreme Court’s decision may be a precursor to other protections being overturned in the future.
“Knowing this moment would come does not make it any less devastating. The Supreme Court has now officially given
politicians permission to control what we do with our bodies, deciding that we can no longer be trusted to determine the course for our own lives,” she said.
While the SCOTUS’ decision saddens Johnson, she is hopeful that the ruling will mobilize people to make their voices heard and exercise their power to create change.
“But in stripping away our rights, the Supreme Court and anti-abortion politicians have also unleashed a movement. We are a movement that will not compromise on our bodies, our dignity, or our freedom,” she said. “We are a movement that will show up at every town hall, every legislative session, and every ballot box to demand we are treated like equal citizens. We are a movement that will do what we can to get abortion care to people and people to abortion care.”
Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling, abortions remain legal in California.
SCOTUS’ Decision on Roe v. Wade
Statement from Senator Anna M. Caballero (D-Merced) Posted June 28, 2022
Caballero (D-Merced) released a statement following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organizations, overruling the federal constitutional protections regarding the right to abortion:
“It is an alarming and sad day for our country. The United States Supreme Court has issued a ruling that takes away the fundamental rights of women and people to make their own health care decisions. The right to an abortion has been settled law for fifty years, and women’s lives have been better for it. The decision to have an abortion can be a difficult, heart-wrenching choice, and one not made lightly—but with the advice of medical personnel and trusted friends and family. The government should have no right to interfere or intervene. It is a personal, constitutional right.
Let us be clear, the decision made today does not end abortion. The wealthy will travel abroad to get their abortions as they always have and the poor, who have limited resources will have no choice but to seek unsafe, unsanitary and dangerous procedures. This cannot be tolerated.
In California, the State Legislature and I stand in support of ALL who need a safe and legal harbor to navigate difficult decisions and who need options from which to choose. We will be a beacon of hope for reproductive justice. That is also, why I have authored Senate Bill 1142 to help support those seeking care, and many of my legislative colleagues are doing the same. I call on other states in our nation to step up and send a clear message that we will not allow the U.S Supreme Court to trample and destroy our democracy. We will fight back, protect our constitutional rights and provide for those who seek care.”
UnidosUS Applauds Bipartisan Passage of Gun Safety Bill, Urges Additional Action to Reduce Epidemic of Gun Violence
FDR Media-Posted: June 24, 2022
WASHINGTON, DC— Following today’s final passage of a bipartisan federal bill reforming the nation’s gun laws, Janet Murguía, President and CEO of UnidosUS issued the following statement:
“We applaud the bipartisan gun violence legislation passed today that invests in mental health resources and crisis intervention programs; expands background checks for firearm purchasers under 21 years old; closes the ‘boyfriend loophole;’ and invests in the implementation of ‘extreme risk’ laws. This law is an important first step in stopping the plague of gun violence and the ensuing trauma in our communities.
“We acknowledge that this law’s actions do not go far enough, and that it took an event as horrific and senseless as the shooting of schoolchildren in Uvalde, Texas to make even this very modest legislation a reality. Yet we also believe that we must support a bill that is the first meaningful gun reform bill in nearly 30 years—that garnered the support of 15 Republican senators and 14 Republican representatives, allowing it to move forward despite gun extremist opposition; that provides $15 billion in additional funding to address the public health crisis that is gun violence; and that will make our children and our communities safer.
“It is our hope that in the very near future, Congress will act to make us safer still. This means also enacting long overdue, common sense gun safety laws that protect our schools and other sensitive locations and include liability for gun manufacturers, a ban on assault weapons, as well as licensing and background checks. Similar measures are widely supported by Latino voters. We must also make further long-term and community-based investments to expand mental health services to all who need it.”