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OpinionsAbortion issue in America has serious religious and cultural dimensions

Abortion issue in America has serious religious and cultural dimensions


Debabrata Biswas from Boston


Anguish and Anger—these two words and their synonyms  may be used to express the reactions of majority of American women after ‘ Politico' a political journalism company, released  a bombshell leak of a majority draft opinion of Supreme  court  to overrun its landmark ruling on abortion. The draft was penned by Justice-Samuel Alito, a right wing conservative member of the court. He was supported by four other justices, three of them appointed by Donald Trump.


Roe v Wade was a landmark legal decision issued on January 22, 1973 in which the US Supreme court ruled that the 14th amendment to the constitution protects women's right and liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restrictions.


The original suit was filed on behalf of a pregnant woman named Norma McCorvey, pseudonym Jane Roe against a Texas anti-.abortion statue. Texas state was represented by Henry Wade, the District attorney of Dallas .Hence the case was called Roe v Wade. The Roe legal decision didn't go unchallenged since then. The conservatives tried many a times to overturn the Roe ruling. The  Supreme court  revised and  remodelled  Roe's legality honouring ‘Roiscore Principle' in some key abortion right's cases like  ‘Planned parenthood v  Casey', and ‘Whole woman's    v  Hellerstedt'.


Ultimately, on May 2, 2022, in the case of ‘Dobbs  v  Jackson  Women's Health Organisation'{against Mississippi state law banning abortion} ,which is expected  to  held by  June 2022, the majority opinion of  the Supreme court goes against  Roe ruling , which is conveyed clearly by justice  Alito's  draft. It termed Roe law unconstitutional and ‘return the issue of abortion to the people's selected representatives', meaning state's congress.

The leaked draft of Supreme Court was devastating, but not surprising.


Grass root feminist organisations, especially led by women of colour, Indigenous women and other historically marginalized communities have been warning us of this day for decades. The fallout of overturning Roe will be the imminent culmination of decade long attacks on abortion right. More than 20 states have laws that would restrict or ban abortion soon after Supreme Court overturns Roe. All other Red states will follow suit at the earliest opportunity. One type of statute, called a ‘Trigger Law' is designed to take effect immediately. Women of colour will bear mostly the brunt of further abortion restrictions. Black and Hispanics get abortion at higher rates than their peers. They also experience higher poverty rates and it will be harder for them to travel to other states where abortion is legal.


The implication of overruling Roe will be enormous. Justice Alito's draft says that Roe was egregiously wrong because it protects a right that was not included definitively in the text of the constitution and cannot be safeguarded as a constitutional right'.


Simply put, the court's pulling out the thread of abortion rights threatens to unravel a fabric of rights that has been protected for decades.  Conservatives, elated with success will come down on same sex marriage, LGBTQS+ rights, and other liberal issues which they despise; with support Supreme Court held by majority conservative justices. Jurisprudence is very much polarized on party lines in today's America.



As an antidote of this trend in Republican held states, some Blue states [run by Democrats] are already taking steps to enshrine the right to abortion in state laws, also providing abortion services to people who live in other states.


The abortion right fight will upend American . Democrats have quickly pivoted to abortion as a political winning message in upcoming congressional midterm election in Nov. A recent opinion poll shows that 60% of Americans supports abortion rights, 30% against and others undecided. Making abortion the ballot box question would allow Democrats to side with majority who want Roe v Wade intact. The issue is seen as one way to galvanize young   voters whose recent disenchantment puts the Democrats at a risk of wipe out in congress.


The Democrats quickly placed a bill in Senate, seeking to retain abortion rights, but unable to pass it as their own senator Joe Manchin sided with the republicans. Vice president Kamala Harris  walked up to the cameras of the reporters  after the failed vote and said ‘[This] makes clear that a priority for all who care  about this issue –the priority should be to elect pro-choice leaders—at the local ,the state and the federal level.' President Joe Biden tweeted a similar message, vowing to fight for abortion right. Though Biden's approval rating is as low as 42% at present, Roe issue has created some ripple among voters, especially the youths. The Monmouth University Polling Institute says – ‘Abortion has surged to the top tier of issues voters find important, suddenly ranking alongside and ahead of other topics'.


When some small sized anti-abortionists gleefully rallied showing their support to the draft Supreme Court ruling, large crowd of protesters came to Supreme Court last week to express their anger over the leaked draft decision. Protests erupted in front of the houses of Supreme Court justices. Republicans argued the protest threatens ‘mob rule', but Democrats were fine with ‘peaceful demonstration'. There were more than 380 protest events in cities including major ones like Washington DC, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston. They hold signs and raised slogans such as ‘Reproductive justice for all', ‘We will not go back' and ‘My body, my choice'. ‘If it's a fight they want , it's a fight they will get'- said Rachael Carmona, director of ‘Women's March', one of the groups that organised the protests which they call ‘Bans off our bodies'. Dr. Tlaleng Mofakeng, the ‘United Nations special rapporteur on the right to health' told ‘The Guardian' that US should not drop Federal protection for abortion. ‘When abortion is illegal, women die. Forced motherhood is female enslavement'—he said.


A protester, Kim Feller, aged 73, said she struggled to sleep after hearing the news in ‘Politico'. Image of her own illegal abortion many years ago, cloaked in secrecy and subterfuge flashed in her mind; she woke up in the middle of the night, thinking about it again in the morning, and then walked to the Supreme Court to protest. ‘Good grief' –said the semi-retired labor movement worker—‘I did this in the 70s. Now I am in my 70s and I am still doing the same bloody fight'.


The fight ahead will see the flood gates opening to a torrent of new feuds in a country already drenched in a cultural hegemony war. (IPA Service)

The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.


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