Updated Friday, June 24, 2022 @ 5:50 p.m.
Elected officials, candidates and activists weighed in with stern condemnations of the Supreme Court’s landmark reversal of the Roe v. Wade decision, which will effectively ban abortion in at least half of the states and leave the rest to either develop their own bans or protect the procedure.
Former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama published an essay via Medium saying that the decision had gone far beyond what previous Courts have done in placing limits on constitutionally guaranteed freedoms.
The ruling “simply forces folks to give up any constitutionally recognized interest in what happens to their body once they get pregnant. Under the Court’s logic, state legislatures could dictate that women carry every pregnancy to term, no matter how early it is and no matter what circumstances led to it — even rape or incest,” the essay reads.
“The consequences of this decision would be a blow not just to women, but to all of us who believe that in a free society, there are limits to how much the government can encroach on our personal lives. And this decision is unlikely to significantly reduce abortions, which have been steadily going down over the past several decades thanks in large part to better access to contraception and education.”
Condemnation from others was swift, with many issuing statements withing minutes of the decision, which had been expected since April, when a draft was leaked to and published by Politico. President Joe Biden is scheduled to deliver an address to the nation at 12:30 p.m. eastern time.
Attorney General Merrick Garland, said in a statement that the “Court has eliminated an established right that has been an essential component of women’s liberty for half a century – a right that has safeguarded women’s ability to participate fully and equally in society. And in renouncing this fundamental right, which it had repeatedly recognized and reaffirmed, the Court has upended the doctrine of stare decisis, a key pillar of the rule of law.”
Ironically, Obama had nominated Garland to the Court following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016, but GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell blocked even hearings on the nomination. That led to the first of ex-president Donald Trump’s three appointments which gave the Court its current conservative supermajority.
“I’ve always believed a patient’s room is too small a space for a woman, her doctor and the United States government,” said Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) in a statement.
“The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade ends a core protection for women to make their own health care decisions, and is a departure from our American ideals to recognize and protect basic rights. This misguided decision is devastating for women and families in Georgia and nationwide.”
Warnock is running against Republican challenger Herschel Walker, who in the past has said he opposes abortion, even in cases where a pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, tweeted that Congress should prioritize federal legislation protecting abortion—despite the near impossibility of a measure passing given an evenly divided Senate that requires a 60-vote majority to get anything done.
“A woman’s right to choose should be non-negotiable. It is vital we pass federal legislation to secure access to reproductive care,” she tweeted. “The vast majority of Americans support the right to choose, reproductive rights, and access to safe abortions; however, the will of the American people has been overturned by a small handful of fundamentalists who believe in government-mandated pregnancies.”
“Abortion is a racial justice issue,” said Alicia Garza, an activist who founded the Black Futures Lab, a Black advocacy organization, in 2018. “This decision will disproportionately impact Black families and devastate our economic futures.”
Jessica Knight Henry, the deputy executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said in a statement that the decision would almost certainly have a greater impact on nonwhite women.
“Stripping away a woman’s right to safe, legal abortion and to make our own health care decisions will have especially dire consequences for Black women and women of color across our country,” she said.
Even at the municipal level, the condemnation was loud and forceful. Mount Vernon, N.Y. Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard, who serves as vice president of the African-American Mayors Association, said banning abortion would exacerbate systemic inequities already faced in many Black communities.
“America cannot just be pro life in utero. We must demonstrate this same commitment to ensure that resources are provided and readily available throughout their lifetime so that they can be properly educated, housed, fed and clothed,” she said.