United States: the Supreme Court revokes the right to abortion


Dn a historic about-face, the very conservative Supreme Court of the United States buried a judgment which, for nearly half a century, guaranteed the right of American women to abortion but had never been accepted by the religious right. “The Constitution makes no reference to abortion and none of its articles implicitly protects this right,” wrote Judge Samuel Alito on behalf of the majority. Roe v. Wade “was totally unfounded from the start” and “must be canceled”.

This decision does not make terminations of pregnancy illegal, but returns the United States to the situation in force before the emblematic decision Roe v. Wade from 1973, when each state was free to allow them or not. The Supreme Court has thus given the freedom to the 50 American states to ban abortion on their soil and half should seize it in the more or less long term.

A draft shutdown had been the subject of an unprecedented leak in early May, sparking major protests across the country and a wave of indignation on the left. The decision goes against the international trend to liberalize abortions, with progress in countries where the influence of the Catholic Church remains strong, such as Ireland, Argentina, Mexico and Colombia.

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President Joe Biden has denounced a “tragic mistake” that “puts the health and lives of women at risk” and called on Americans to defend the right to abortion during the midterm elections in November. While clinics in Missouri, South Dakota or Georgia closed their doors one after the other, Democratic states, such as California or New York, have pledged to defend access to abortions on their soil.

The battle between pro and anti-abortion continues

The Supreme Court’s judgment crowns 50 years of a methodical struggle led by the religious right, for whom it represents a huge victory but not the end of the battle: the movement should continue to mobilize to tilt as many states in his camp or to try to get a ban at the federal level. It is also part of the record of former Republican President Donald Trump who, during his mandate, profoundly overhauled the Supreme Court by bringing in three conservative magistrates (Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett) signatories today today of this judgment.

In part of the country, women wishing to have an abortion will therefore be forced to continue their pregnancy, to manage clandestinely, in particular by obtaining abortion pills on the Internet, or to travel to other States, where abortions will remain legal. Anticipating an influx, these mostly Democratic states took steps to make abortions easier to access on their soil, and clinics began to shift their staffing and equipment resources. But traveling is expensive, and the Supreme Court’s decision will further penalize poor or single-parent women, who are overrepresented in black and Hispanic minorities.

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The judgment published Friday “is one of the most important in the history of the Supreme Court since its creation in 1790”, notes health law professor Lawrence Gostin. “It has already happened that it changes its case law, but to establish or restore a right, never to remove it,” he told Agence France-Presse.

Differentiated policies depending on the States

Thirteen states, mostly in the more religious and conservative South and Central, have in recent years passed so-called “zombie” or “trigger” laws drafted to come into effect automatically in the event of a change in Supreme Court case law. They prohibit abortions with nuances: Idaho provides exceptions in the event of rape or incest, Kentucky only in the event of danger to the life of the pregnant woman; Louisiana provides up to ten years in prison for health professionals, Missouri up to 15…

Twenty-two states, mostly on the West Coast and in the Northeast, will retain the right to abortion and some have even taken steps to expand access to abortions, including allowing more health professionals to perform them. or by increasing funding for clinics. Taking note of the legal risk, the powerful organization Planned Parenthood does not plan any abortion from the end of June in Wisconsin where the Democratic governor defends the right to abortion but not the majority Republican parliamentarians.

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Internationally, several voices, including those of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, have also deplored the American “backsliding”. In France, President Emmanuel Macron regretted the “challenging” of women’s freedoms. The head of the American diplomacy Antony Blinken declared that Washington however intended to continue the support for the rights of reproductive health around the world.

The key role of Donald Trump

The judgment crowns fifty years of a methodical struggle led by the religious right, for whom it represents a huge victory but not the end of the battle: the movement should continue to mobilize to tip as many states as possible into its camp. or to try to get a federal ban.

It is also part of the record of former President Donald Trump who, during his mandate, profoundly overhauled the Supreme Court by bringing in three conservative magistrates (Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett) signatories today of this stop. This decision, “it is the will of God”, welcomed the Republican billionaire on the Fox channel.

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According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research center that campaigns for access to contraception and abortion in the world, half of the States should ban abortions in the more or less short term. Washington also intends to continue supporting “reproductive health rights” around the world, US Foreign Minister Antony Blinken said on Friday.

The State Department “will remain fully committed to improving access to reproductive health services and advancing reproductive health rights around the world,” the secretary of state said in a statement. Antony Blinken also assured that his services “will do everything possible” so that all State Department employees can have access to it, “wherever they live”. “We will not back down from this commitment,” he added.


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United States: the Supreme Court revokes the right to abortion


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