July 6, 2022

Follow Up On Dobbs v. Jackson

In response to an inquiry from a community member, we are sharing a follow-up to our statement on the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case to clarify how the Supreme Court of the United States is setting up for future decisions regarding 14th amendment rights and what authority state governments have to invade our personal privacy. 

Note: This content may be unsettling or concerning for many readers. As there has recently been a lot of content published about abortion rights, we encourage you to take space for self care while staying involved and civically engaged. If you find yourself experiencing extreme emotions or burnout, consider exploring this article on coping & taking action during the reversal of Roe, or taking a break to practice mindful meditation

The way this Supreme Court opinion was written is very concerning as it lays the groundwork for other rights to be removed. In the syllabus (headnote) of 19-1392 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the court outlines their reasoning as to why “the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion.”

Within this reasoning, the court claims that…

  1. The 14th Amendment does not clearly support the right to abortion in the Due Process Clause or Equal Protection Clause. The Due Process Clause requires that the government goes through the correct legal procedures before removing anyone’s right to life, liberty, or property. The Equal Protection Clause guarantees everyone’s equal protection under the law and freedom from discrimination. The Supreme Court found that this case does not discriminate against people with uteruses by removing their right to abortion, and new abortion restrictions align with legal procedure.

    In this case, SCOTUS ruled in such a way that goes against the grain of previous decisions regarding the 14th Amendment. They worded their decision to express disagreement with the way the Amendment has previously been used to affirm rights: “The Court reviews the standard that the Court’s cases have used to determine whether the 14th Amendment’s reference to ‘liberty’ protects a particular right” (page 2). In this case, the Court went against the SCOTUS opinion in Roe v Wade, which claimed that abortion rights were guaranteed under the 14th and 9th Amendments.

  2. The Court additionally claimed that “the right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and tradition.” The Court acknowledges that liberty has been a controversial subject in court cases in the past, and what aligns with the tradition of liberty is up to them to define. The Court states that they are “‘reluctant’ to recognize rights that are not mentioned in the constitution” (page 3).

This line of reasoning appears to be intentionally set up to lay the groundwork for other rights to be removed. Gay marriage is one of the rights that has been recognized as part of the tradition of liberty under the 14th Amendment in a previous Supreme Court ruling, despite not being mentioned in the constitution itself. This decision by SCOTUS states that our current court will be hesitant to maintain or recognize rights that are not explicitly mentioned in the wording of the constitution, and implies that in future cases they will act in the same way as they did on this one.

Having messages, mail, and other personal forms of communication monitored is something that has come up under the new criminal abortion laws that states are developing. It isn’t mentioned in the court case, but private communication between citizens regarding abortion, pregnancy, etc. can be subpoenaed as evidence in criminal abortion cases or used by law enforcement. Some lawmakers have proposed creating legislation that protects our data better so that companies who use location tracking can’t put lives and liberty at risk by selling that data.

Take Action Today! 

Visit Planned Parenthood Action Fund to find out how you can take action to support access to reproductive healthcare.

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By: Rachel Dannen

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