United States: Overturning abortion right a major blow to women’s freedom and equality

June 26, 2022
The United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade on June 24. Photo: Emma Guliani/Pexels

The decision by the extreme right wing of the United States Supreme Court to overturn Roe v Wade, the 1973 decision recognising a woman’s right to abortion, is a direct attack on women’s right to control their own bodies.

Without that right, women cannot achieve equality with men.

“Forced childbirth” is now the law for women.

Protests were immediately held outside the court and around the country. Young and older women and many men denounced the ruling.

A typical comment was: “When you take away the rights of people and you tell them their choice no longer matters in this country that is supposed to be the land of the free, you are oppressing them.”

Major medical organisations have denounced the ruling as an attack on health care.

Many national polls have shown a clear majority, 60‒70%, opposed to overturning Roe v Wade. It is tyranny by a minority.

Historically, the court has overturned laws and previous rulings to expand rights. But in this case, the court has done the opposite. The unprecedented decision overturns a constitutional right Americans have taken for granted for 50 years.

People born after 1973 have grown up knowing nothing else.

'Matter of life and death'

The immediate result is that abortion rights will be decided state by state. The 26 states controlled by the Trumpist Republican Party will outlaw all abortions. For now, 24 states will allow abortion, with some having restrictions.

Many states where abortions are legal are adopting new laws affirming abortion rights and establishing themselves as “sanctuary” states where women denied abortion rights in Trumpist-controlled states can travel to have abortions, although this can be difficult or impossible for lower income women, who cannot afford to take time off work or do not have the means to travel often hundreds of miles.

This especially affects Black, Latina and First Nations women. For them, health care is already inferior to what is available to white women.

Crystal Echo Hawk of IllumiNative, an Indigenous women-led social justice organisation, wrote: “The Supreme Court’s decision is particularly devastating for the native community, who will undoubtedly see an increase in violence towards Native women and girls.

“Access to abortion and reproductive care is foundational to safety and wellbeing — this is a matter of life and death for many in Native communities.”

African American Missouri Congressperson Cori Bush, who had an abortion at the age of 17, wrote: “Abortion care IS healthcare. It was before this. And it will remain so after this. We don’t care what a far-right extremist Supreme Court that is in a crisis of legitimacy says.

“Your racist, sexist, classist ruling won’t stop us from accessing the care we need.”

The ruling also hits trans and non-binary people — anyone who can become pregnant. Trans people already under attack will now face threats of rape and forced births.

The issue of miscarriages being classified as illegal abortions occurs more commonly than is widely known. It is likely that the first cases following the court’s decision will be aimed at minority women.

Republican assault

Trumpist Republicans will fight to extend the Court’s ruling.

We can expect that Republican states will criminalise any women who go to sanctuary states.

They are already planning to outlaw “morning after” pills.

In Republican states, illegal abortions will increase deaths and inflict bodily harm, as happened before Roe v Wade. Many experts predict that mortality rates among women will rise.

With this victory in their sails, Republicans are already saying they will begin to organise to restrict and ultimately overturn the right to abortion in states where it remains legal and fight to adopt a national law to outlaw abortion, or bring a case before the Supreme Court where it can do so.

There will be confrontations between states and intensified division among people in all states, which can spill over into violent attacks on abortion clinics and doctors in Democratic states and attacks on supporters of abortion rights in Republican states.

The decision denies any right to privacy and opens the door to the court denying the right to contraception and LGBTIQ rights. It also opens the door to the invasion of emails, phones and social media by the government and corporations.

It is also an attack on the separation of church and state. It imposes the view of the Catholic Church and Christian evangelicals on society.

It is tyranny against other religions that disagree with their views on abortion. For example, in Judaism, a fertilised egg is not a human being and abortion is not considered a crime. A legal challenge by a rabbi to Florida’s anti-abortion law will be quashed if it gets to the Supreme Court.

Five of the six justices who voted for the repeal are Catholic. Justice Sonia Sotomayor is also Catholic, but voted against the decision, reflecting the views of most Catholic women, who also use contraception. However, the Catholic Church’s official view is that contraception and abortion, along with divorce, sexual activity outside marriage and lesbian and gay sex, are sins.

During childbirth, where a choice must be made between preserving the life of the mother or the baby, the latter prevails, according to the Church.

The decision to overturn Roe v Wade brings with it the widespread realisation that the Supreme Court has become a Trumpist court. It is now more than equal with the legislative and executive powers, since it can strike down any law.

Moreover, one of the undemocratic features of the US Constitution, compared to other bourgeois democracies, is that the court’s members are appointed for life and can only be removed by impeachment — out of the question for the foreseeable future.


Top Democratic politicians have eloquently denounced the ruling, including its unconstitutional denial of women’s rights and the adverse effects on them. But, with the mid-term elections due in November, the only answer they give is to vote for the Democratic Party.

A few days before overturning Roe v Wade, the court made another decision with widespread implications: New York’s state law restricting who can carry a concealed gun was found to be unconstitutional.

Already, many people are “packing heat” in this country of widespread shootings, but this is now legal. There will be more shootings of women in domestic and family violence, more shootings in road rage incidents and more mass shootings, including in schools.

Many people will arm themselves in self-defence.

There will be more police killings where it will be “assumed” that anyone confronted by police is armed. There will be more police killings of Blacks.

This “Wild West” ruling makes the US stand out against other “advanced” countries, as does the overthrow of Roe v Wade.

Electing Democrats, who support current state institutions including the Supreme Court as inviolable, is not the answer. These institutions need to be radically overhauled, if not dismantled.

Biden has made clear he will not take effective action in response to the repeal of Roe v Wade. He has the power to open up federal properties in all states to carry out abortions and implement other protections. Instead, he called on Congress to protect women’s right to abortion, knowing full well that Congress will not do this.

The only way out of this is mass action, leading to independent political action against the capitalist parties and institutions.

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.