The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Supreme Court Expected to Undermine Roe v. Wade

Dec 6, 2021

Defending a Mississippi law banning abortion at 15 weeks—with no exception for rape or incest—Scott Stewart, the state’s solicitor general, argued that Roe v. Wade has "no basis in the Constitution ... no home in our history or traditions." This Mississippi attorney nonchalantly said, in effect, that sexually abused girls and women raped by family or strangers must be denied access to legal abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The Roe v. Wade decision—delivered in 1973 when women were massively in the streets demanding equality—outlined a constitutional right to privacy and autonomy in making reproductive health decisions. The medical standard established by Roe was legal abortion up to the point of viability (the point at which a fetus can survive outside the womb, now between 21 to 23 weeks).

Of over 7,000 cases the U.S. Supreme Court could have selected, hearing the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization signaled the court is ready to overturn almost 50 years of federal protection of the right to legal abortion in the U.S. The court heard oral arguments on December 1.

Arguing for women to have access to abortion, attorney Julie Rikelman said pregnancy itself, "imposes unique physical demands and risks on women." She explained that in Mississippi, women are 75 times more likely to die giving birth than when undergoing a pre-viability abortion!

Television reporting of proceedings before the three liberal justices and six conservative justices was stunning. In the words of abortion rights lawyer Mary Ziegler, "It was clear that big changes were coming to U.S. abortion law, no matter what … the only real question is how the justices will rationalize their decision to side with Mississippi …. I now believe that the justices will fully overturn Roe v. Wade when their decision comes down next year."

It is expected that in June or July of 2022, right before mid-term elections, the official announcement undermining or overturning Roe will be made. Conservatives on the court seemed unworried about a backlash. Liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor argued, "Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the constitution and its reading are just political acts?"

While every act made by the Supreme Court IS a political act, Sotomayor’s underlying question was: Is this attack so obvious that the population will fight back?

A recent poll showed 75% of the U.S. says abortion is a decision to be made by a woman and her doctor and not the government. So, the coming Supreme Court decision will be another example of a minority dictating to the majority in this so-called democracy.

Overturning Roe would throw the question of abortion back 50 years to reproductive healthcare being decided on a state-by-state basis. That would trigger 21 states to ban most abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Five more states are expected to ban abortion quickly after a Roe v. Wade overturn.

It is poor and working class women and families who will suffer. A recent study of women seeking abortion found half had incomes below the poverty level. The study found that giving birth, instead of being able to access an abortion, resulted in an almost four-fold increase in women staying below the Federal Poverty Level. Wealthy women have the resources to get an abortion and never think twice about how to pay for it.

So, for those who wish to stand and fight for women’s right to a safe and legal abortion, the time to act is now. A massive mobilization would give the Supreme Court something to worry about as they write their “legal arguments” that provide cover for their political choices.