Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, a leaked draft decision on abortion, indicates that the court is on the verge of overturning precedent cases of 1973’s  Roe v Wade and 1992’s Planned Parenthood v Casey which gave women the right to have an abortion in America.

The legal framework struck down the requirements of husbands’ consent for wives to receive abortion but upheld laws requiring parental consent for minors with a judicial bypass for minors endangered by this requirement. 

Now, abortion rights are threatened depending on the outcome of Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

What is Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization?

Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization was initiated on December 1, 2021, involving a Mississippi law banning nearly all abortions over 15 weeks gestational age. The origin of the initiation started on March 19, 2018, when Mississippi passed a law called the “Gestational Age Act,” which prohibits all abortions, with few exceptions, after 15 weeks’ gestational age. 

Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the only licensed abortion facility in Mississippi, and one of its doctors filed a lawsuit in federal district court challenging the law and requesting an emergency temporary restraining order (TRO). 

The US District of the Court for the Southern District of Mississippi and then the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals both struck down the law as unconstitutional, and the state appealed to the Supreme Court, which will review this term. 

According to an initial draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito, the Supreme Court has voted to strike down Roe v Wade. Justice Alito pointed out that the constitution does not reference abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision. On this basis, he confirmed the legitimacy of the draft. 

After the confirmation from Roberts about the authenticity of a leaked draft, Vice President Kamala Harris said that “Republican legislators in states across the country are weaponizing the use of the law against women.” She said it is “clear” that “opponents of Roe want to punish women and take away their rights to make decisions about their bodies.” 

Photo by Gayatri Malhotra on Unsplash

3 Reasons Why

Three significant political repercussions may happen as a result of the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization

1. Each state in the US would have broad authority to set abortion policy, including banning abortion. Some language in the draft opinion raises questions about whether future rulings could go even further, perhaps establishing fetal personhood or fetal citizenship, thereby gutting abortion protections in all states.

Philosophers and ethicists such as Peter Singer have argued that a fetus should not be entitled to legal protection until it acquires the characteristics that they regard as defining what it means to be a “person.” Some of the attributes of personhood are sentience, self-awareness, the ability to reason, or some combination thereof. 

By this logic, it would be an open question whether even born individuals, including young children or those afflicted with certain developmental or medical conditions, merit protection as “persons.” 

Even if “personhood” begins when a particular attribute or a combination of characteristics is acquired, it is hard to see why viability should mark the point where “personhood” begins. 

2. “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely-the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” Justice Alto says in the leaked opinion. 

He argues that rights can only be considered implicit in the Constitution if such rights are “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition” and “implicit in the concept of ordered liberty.”

Judging whether a right is legitimate based on how recently it was won is a terrifying prospect for people from minority backgrounds, such as women, African Americans, queer people, and others whose rights are not “deeply rooted” in a country with a long history of patriarchy and structural racism.

3. Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization is likely to exacerbate political polarization between Democrats who largely support abortion and Republicans who mostly do not.

The political fallout from the ruling will be immense. Rights of states will increase, the rights of minorities will be diminished, and political polarization will steer up America even more just ahead of the presidential race in 2024.

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Chisaki Yamaguchi

Chisaki Yamaguchi holds an BSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Yamaguchi focuses on global affairs and theoretical and conceptual questions of...

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