The Supreme Court’s Latest Inaction on Abortion Is a Constitutional Disaster

supreme-court-abortion-constitution
Supporters with the Center for Reproductive Rights outside the Supreme Court on Tuesday night, the night before oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. (Instagram)

A disaster.

That was my first reaction when I heard the news early Friday morning about the Supreme Court’s ruling on two emergency appeals to block enforcement of the Texas law S.B. 8 banning most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

As Ms. contributing editor Carrie Baker wrote in her analysis of the ruling, the “Supreme Court refused to block a clearly unconstitutional abortion ban …” She said the Court’s ruling “substantially narrows options to challenge the law in federal court, and there is no fast option for a Texas Supreme Court ruling in state court.”

This is not only a disaster for women and girls in Texas, but has potentially far-reaching implications beyond the state and beyond abortion access. “The Supreme Court has again turned its back on the Constitution … The impact of this betrayal will stretch far beyond Texas, where lawmakers are already introducing copycat [bills] …” warned Julia Kaye, of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “But make no mistake: Today it’s abortion rights that have been targeted; tomorrow it could be any other freedom people hold dear.”

The Court’s failure is especially concerning in the face of an increasingly imperiled Roe. As we await a decision in Dobbs v. Jackson, the case that could lead to an outright repeal—or at least a further gutting—of Roe v. Wade, set to arrive next summer, I continue to reflect on last week’s hearings.

As Ms. contributor and “On the Issues” host Dr. Michele Goodwin pointed out in the New York TimesMississippi’s ban does not include exceptions for cases of rape or incest. She writes of her own experience with abortion following rape by her father. “No child should be pressured or expected to carry a pregnancy and give birth or to feel remorse, guilt, doubt or unease about an abortion under any circumstances, let alone rape or incest.”

“Make no mistake: Today it’s abortion rights that have been targeted; tomorrow it could be any other freedom people hold dear.”

As we face down this latest battle in the war to save Roe, Ms. will continue to keep you informed with feminist reporting and analysis—and strategies for moving forward. More than ever, we are not giving up—and neither should you.

P.S. As the year winds down, we’re already gearing up for the next one. 2022 will be a pivotal year—not just in terms of abortion rights, but with the midterm elections, ERA, voting rights and more. With so much at stake, make sure you don’t miss a single issue or court decision—join our global community of feminists

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About

Katherine Spillar is the executive director of Feminist Majority Foundation and executive editor of Ms., where she oversees editorial content and the Ms. in the Classroom program.