The U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade should not come as a surprise. While we here in Oregon have protected a person’s right to choose, at least 22 states and likely more to follow, have left millions of people without crucial reproductive care. The Portland JACL is committed to finding ways to support communities of color, the working poor, and immigrants who will disproportionately be affected by the court’s reversal to protect a person’s reproductive freedoms.
The decision hamstrings substantive due process as a theory to advance civil rights by claiming that such substantive due process rights must have a basis in long standing tradition. And, though conservative Justice Kavanaugh states how our rights protected under the fourteenth amendment are not in jeopardy, these words fall short of believable as he also stated that Roe v. Wade was settled law during his confirmation hearing.
Furthermore, despite reassurances from Justice Kavanaugh and Justice Alito that overturning Roe v. Wade as a Fourteenth Amendment right implicates only abortion, their reassurances appear disingenuous at best, if not outright duplicitous. Justice Clarence Thomas, in his concurring opinion, explicitly urged that other Fourteenth Amendment rights cases be reconsidered. Those other cases include: Griswold v. Connecticut, which allows access to contraception; Lawrence v. Texas, which protects the right of consenting adults to engage in sexual activity without fear of criminal reprisal; and Obergefell v. Hodges, which recognizes marriage as a civil right to which same-sex couples are also entitled to. Losing the federal right to abortion is heartbreaking but may foreshadow the loss of other important civil rights.
Whether it is restricting a person’s ability to travel freely, increased monitoring and surveillance or criminalizing who you love, Portland JACL will remain vigilant for the repercussions of the Supreme Court’s ruling to vacate fifty years of standing precedent.