By Leo Pond
The Supreme Court case titled Roe v. Wade was decided on Jan. 22, 1973, the primary holding in summary was that a person may choose to have an abortion until a fetus becomes viable, based on the right to privacy contained in the “due process” clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Viability means the ability to live outside the womb, which usually happens between 24 and 28 weeks after conception. The Roe v. Wade ruling was not a ruling that fully protected the right to choose, it was a ruling that said a woman could have her right to choose for a certain amount of time.
This ruling stopped women’s rights from being stripped away at the state level. In Georgia the state government passed the LIFE bill, also known as the heartbeat bill. The LIFE bill would block all abortions after a heartbeat is detected, a heartbeat can be detected as early as five weeks after conception. But some women don’t even know they are pregnant at five weeks.
The LIFE bill was blocked by a Federal Judge on July 14, 2020, because it violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. Without the ruling of Roe v. Wade the bill could still be interpreted as legal and constitutional.
The addition of Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Justice Amy Coney Barrett has brought a conservative majority to the Supreme Court, and that could be disastrous for women’s rights as it relates to making choices for their own bodies.
Justice Barrett has expressed that she is against abortion, in a 1998 Notre Dame Law School article she referred to abortion as “always immoral.” Justice Barrett is part of a christian group called The People Of Praise where she served as a “handmaid.” This closely knit christian group rejects openly gay members and they have a firm stance against abortion at any time during a pregnancy. Justice Barrett has said that her religion will not affect any of her rulings although she consistently ruled with her churches ideals when she was a federal judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
Barrett was also a law clerk for the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Both Barrett and Scalia are Originalists, meaning that they interpret the Constitution the way it is written through the eyes of the framers. Originalism has been widely criticized because it ignores much of the social progress society has made in the past 200 years that have made us a more equitable nation.
During his time on the Senate floor speaking on Monday Senator Edward Markey (D-Mass.) criticized originalism by saying “Originalism is racist. Originalism is sexist. Originalism is homophobic.” He continued by saying “Originalism is just a fancy word for discrimination.”
In the hypothetical that another case similar to Roe v. Wade came before the Supreme Court the conservative majority could use their power to limit a woman’s right to choose. Justice Barrett can be expected to rule using her faith and to overturn Roe v. Wade in that scenario.
Leo Pond is a 14-year-old political columnist from the town of Chittenden.