The debate about abortion and the future of reproductive rights is necessarily nuanced because the issue itself is complicated and deeply personal.
However, the news that Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 decision protecting abortion rights pending feasibility, could be overturned by the US Supreme Court is a lesson to all of us that women’s struggle will never end.
There will always be laws that need to be updated and protected if necessary.
The Roe v Wade overturn is scary enough to be such a throwback, but the way it was leaked is also unnerving. But could it be enough to undermine or even destroy major sociopolitical advances, with far-reaching implications for women around the world?
Access to abortion has long been a controversial issue in the US, but its fate is now set to be decided by a Supreme Court with a conservative supermajority bent on overturning a 49-year-old precedent. This is despite public opinion polls consistently showing that most Americans support the legality of abortion, though many would like to see more restrictions on when it can be performed.
The leaked document – labeled “1. Draft” — appears to reflect the majority opinion of the Supreme Court, and Politico reported that it was written by Justice Samuel Alito and circulated in February.
Associate Justice Samuel Alito wrote, “Roe was eerily wrong from the start.” The case is Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which questions whether pre-fetal abortions outside the womb are viable and constitutionally protected.
What is clear is that the conservative arm of the Supreme Court wants to end legal abortion in America — to end recognition of a woman’s constitutional right to make her own medical decisions, including having an abortion without government interference. If this bill goes into effect as expected, it would mean that access to abortion would become nearly impossible in many states.
What could this attack on reproductive rights mean for Ireland? Until 2018 we still had a constitutional ban on abortion.
In 1983, the Eighth Amendment was passed into the Constitution, giving the unborn child the same rights as mothers.
This meant that if a woman became pregnant, her human rights would be stripped away, she would be denied an abortion even if she was pregnant and a child herself, or even if the baby she was carrying was so ill that it would die shortly after birth.
It often felt like we were living indoors The story of the maidbut women have campaigned for it to be removed for more than three decades.
The yes landslide, confirmed at a relieved and ebullient gathering at Dublin Castle, meant Ireland finally gave its girls and women the right to choose whether or not to get pregnant.
Women could finally have support and health care in their own country – we had regained control of our bodily autonomy.
“The draft judgment puts the US significantly out of step with the rest of the world, with international human rights law and with best clinical and public health practices,” said Fiona de Londras, professor of global legal studies at Birmingham University in England.
“It is in large measure a product of the idiosyncratic political and legal struggle over abortion that has been waged in the United States for the last 50 years. While the ruling will undoubtedly bring great hope, inspiration and energy to anti-abortion activists, its tangible impact internationally is likely to be extremely limited.”
Máiréad Enright, Lecturer in Feminist Legal Studies at Birmingham Law School, said the decision had no necessary legal implications for Ireland.
“The US Supreme Court draft is very clearly framed as a judicial response to what Justice Samuel Alito calls an earlier exercise of ‘brute judicial power’ in Roe v Wade,” she said.
“Irish abortion law is not dependent on a court decision. Instead, we have clear national abortion legislation based on a recent majority decision to amend the Constitution to facilitate the liberalization of abortion law.
“There really is no comparison between the two jurisdictions. Dobbs v. Jackson is also highly unusual on a global scale – the international trend is toward the recognition of women’s reproductive rights, as illustrated by recent developments in Argentina, Colombia and Mexico, as well as Ireland.”
Ms Enright added: “The draft decision in Dobbs v. Jackson has already been widely condemned for ignoring women’s lived experiences of restrictive abortion laws. With the Repeal Review approaching, Irish lawmakers have an opportunity to focus on those experiences, as the Oireachtas, the Citizens Assembly and Irish voters did in 2018.”
An ongoing review of Ireland’s abortion laws, chaired by barrister Marie O’Shea, is due to report to the Government later this year.
Regardless of whether Roe v Wade is tipped or not, as seems increasingly likely now, this seems like a time when it’s really necessary for women to remain vigilant – when hard-won gains are being eroded so comprehensively in an instant be able.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/women-must-remain-watchful-that-their-hard-earned-rights-are-not-tossed-aside-in-wake-of-us-abortion-judgment-41612694.html Women must remain vigilant that their hard-won rights are not tossed aside in the wake of the US abortion ruling