Once again, the two Americas face to face, fiercer than ever, raising their voices and heating up the spirits. This Wednesday nine judges, most of them men, have heard arguments by which the law that guarantees the right to abortion in the United States could finally be repealed, which would allow each state of the Union to prohibit that guarantee in a discretionary manner. In front of the Supreme Court in Washington, public opinion has also been heard in the form of protesters from the first hour. “Abortion is murder,” cried the self-proclaimed defenders of life. “My body; my choice ”, exclaimed, on the other hand, the defenders of the voluntary interruption of pregnancy.
After two hours of hearing, everything indicates that a deeply conservative court, born under the protection of Donald Trump, will be inclined to significantly cut, for the first time in almost 50 years, the right to abort for women. The starting gun for what could be the final battle against abortion in the United States had just been fired.
“It’s involution,” says Skylar Deuce categorically, who has traveled with her mother from New York to make herself heard. “I believed that the times of fighting for the obvious had ended my generation,” alleges the mother, Eleanor Zimms, 65, in reference to the conquest of the right to abortion in 1973, when it was declared legal under the cloak of the amendment. 14 of the Constitution by the Supreme Court with the ruling known as Roe against Wade. Since then, a score of magistrates have passed through the highest North American judicial authority and the right to abortion has been maintained.
Until, in recent years, an ultra-conservative current ascended to the populist wave that Trump surfed was undermining, state after state, the right to abort. In 2021 alone, about 100 laws have been enacted that limit access to abortion to the impossible. The law that the Supreme is reviewing from today dates from 2018, when the then Republican Governor of Mississippi Phil Bryant restricted that right by establishing a maximum of 15 weeks of gestation, which automatically conflicted with the constitutional right that since 1973 guarantees to be able to interrupt the pregnancy until the moment in which there is viability for the fetus, that is, “it is potentially capable of living outside the maternal womb, without artificial help” (which happens around week 24).
In the southern state of Mississippi, with about three million inhabitants, there is only one clinic where women who wish to can end their pregnancy. Against this dispensary is the one against which the State has sued, held by the Republicans, after two lower courts ruled the repeal of the law that, according to Governor Bryant solemnly declared during its promulgation in 2018, brought “the salvation for unborn children ”. The 15-week law has finally reached the Supreme Court, to the delight of those against abortion and the fear of those who advocate for women’s right to decide.
The two visions of the United States staged before the steps of the Supreme Court were lived in parallel within the court. There, Judge Sonia Sotomayor was not being cute in suggesting that the architects of the Mississippi law —or that of Texas, which sets the limit for abortions in six weeks of gestation— were convinced that they could succeed because “ the composition of the court has changed ”. His question went directly to the question of the balance of power that the Supreme Court has exercised for years, whose positions are for life. “Can this institution survive the pestilence that this creates in public perception, that the Constitution and its reading are only political acts?” Asked the Puerto Rican judge, appointed to the position by Barack Obama. His answer was pessimistic: “I don’t see how that is possible.” Stephen Breyer, appointed to the court in 1994 by Bill Clinton, and who aligns himself with the progressive wing of the court, added to Sotomayor’s argument by highlighting the need for the Supreme Court to act in this case “on the basis of principles relating to the law and not on social or political pressure ”.
John Roberts, president of the Supreme Court, seemed to seek his idyllic middle ground in which states could be allowed to prohibit abortion before the viability of the fetus, and safeguard some part of that of the 1973 ruling. In his opinion, the 15 weeks that the Mississippi law states is not “a dramatic departure” from feasibility. The neutrality in which controversial Judge Brett Kavanaugh seemed to feel comfortable was surprising, noting that even if the right to legislate were left to the states, there would always be states in which abortion would be accessible to women. For the judge appointed by Trump, supporters of abortion rights have a “strong argument”, so much so that he considered that perhaps the matter should not be being resolved in such a high court.
There was great expectation before the argument of Judge Amy Barrett, appointed in extremis at the end of Trump’s presidency and a devout Catholic. It did not disappoint. The magistrate indicated that she could be inclined not to protect the constitutional right of a woman to have an abortion since there is always the option of giving the child up for adoption.
Six men and three women hold the future of abortion in America in their hands. Six conservative magistrates (five men plus one woman) versus three progressives (two women and one man). For weeks they will evaluate the facts and measure them under the magnifying glass of the Constitution and its precedents. Its ruling must arrive before the end of the judicial course in 2022, at the end of June of this next year or the beginning of July, when the nation is entering headlong in the midterm legislative elections, where the Democrats play the game. House and Senate.
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