SCOTUS justices dissent: ‘From the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of’
In their dissenting minority opinion Friday, Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan wrote that Roe and Casey “understood the difficulty and divisiveness of the abortion issue,” and by overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, a woman “has no rights to speak of.”
“The Court knew that Americans hold profoundly different views about the ‘moral[ity]’ of ‘terminating a pregnancy, even in its earliest stage,'” they wrote. “And the Court recognized that ‘the State has legitimate interests from the outset of the pregnancy in protecting’ the ‘life of the fetus that may become a child.'”
“So the Court struck a balance, as it often does when values and goals compete,” they wrote. “It held that the State could prohibit abortions after fetal viability, so long as the ban contained exceptions to safeguard a woman’s life or health.”
“It held that even before viability, the State could regulate the abortion procedure in multiple and meaningful ways. But until the viability line was crossed, the Court held, a State could not impose a ‘substantial obstacle’ on a woman’s ‘right to elect the procedure’ as she (not the government) thought proper, in light of all the circumstances and complexities of her own life,” they continued.
“Today, the Court discards that balance,” they wrote. “It says that from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of.”
The justices wrote that with overturning Roe v. Wade, a state can now “force” a woman to bring “a pregnancy to term, even at the steepest personal and familial costs.”
“An abortion restriction, the majority holds, is permissible whenever rational, the lowest level of scrutiny known to the law. And because, as the Court has often stated, protecting fetal life is rational, States will feel free to enact all manner of restrictions,” they wrote.
The justices also reference states with strict abortion laws, like Mississippi, which bans abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy.
“Under the majority’s ruling, though, another State’s law could do so after ten weeks, or five or three or one—or, again, from the moment of fertilization,” they wrote. “States have already passed such laws, in anticipation of today’s ruling. More will follow.”
“Some States have enacted laws extending to all forms of abortion procedure, including taking medication in one’s own home,” they continued. “They have passed laws without any exceptions for when the woman is the victim of rape or incest. Under those laws, a woman will have to bear her rapist’s child or a young girl her father’s—no matter if doing so will destroy her life.”
“States may even argue that a prohibition on abortion need make no provision for protecting a woman from risk of death or physical harm,” they wrote. “Across a vast array of circumstances, a State will be able to impose its moral choice on a woman and coerce her to give birth to a child.”
“With sorrow–for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection–we dissent,” they wrote.