January 22, 1973, Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade, in which the court struck down a Texas statute banning abortion, essentially legalizing abortion in the United States, is possibly one of the most controversial and most debated cases in the history of the court. Although following the ruling many states instituted restrictions on abortion and access to abortion clinics, the decision has remained in place for decades.
The case itself and the implications that would exist provided that the ruling is overturned persist in the narrative of today's politics, and rightly so. There is no denying that the ramifications would be tragic and significant. The prohibition of abortion in the United States would put the lives and health of millions of women at stake. However, the case was decided in the Supreme Court in 1973 — 45 years ago. Through Republican Presidents, Republican Justice appointments etc., and it has yet to be reversed. So why would now be any different? Following the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the court, and subsequently his confirmation, the focus on Roe v. Wade has intensified. Democratic leaders have made it clear that a reversal is inevitable with Kavanaugh on the bench, and Senator Elizabeth Warren warned "It will mean wealthy women will still get abortions. … And it will be hard working women who will get crushed under a change in the law."
With chaos and discord amidst the Democratic Party, a singular cause and movement could be exactly what is needed to incite unity, embolden supporters, and set Democrats up for success in the midterms this November and in the 2020 election. Thus, it must be considered that this "threat" has no basis, and is only a tactic by Democrats to foment fear and increase support within their base.
Until the late 1800s, abortion was legal in the United States until a woman initially felt movements of the fetus. Although constraints were in effect that limited women's access to contraceptives and to abortion-inducing drugs, it wasn't until the 1880s that Congress passed legislation that outlawed abortion. Cases that established a precedent for Roe v. Wade did not reach the Supreme Court until the 1960s that eased accessibility to contraceptives for married and unmarried women in the U.S. In 1970, Hawaii and New York legalized abortion within their states and were followed by Alaska and Washington, paving the way for Roe v. Wade.
In 1969, 20-year-old Norma McCorvey was pregnant with her third child after surrendering her first two for adoption, and she again determined her pregnancy was unwanted. McCorvey lived in poverty without the means to raise a child, however, abortion was only legal in her home state of Texas in the case that the pregnancy threatened the life of the mother. After she failed to get an illegal abortion, McCorvey was introduced to Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington, lawyer advocates for the pro-choice movement who were inclined to take on the case. They filed suit on behalf of Norma McCorvey and "all the other women who were or might become pregnant and want to consider all options" against the District Attorney of Dallas County, Texas, Henry Wade. In June of 1970, the District Court of Texas ruled that the abortion ban in Texas was illegal as it violated the Constitutional right to privacy. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court, and on January 22, 1973, in a 7-2 decision, the court deemed the law unconstitutional and in violation of a woman's implicit right to privacy as protected by the 14th amendment.
What is especially interesting to note, and to draw a comparison to today's Supreme Court, is the makeup of the court at the time the Roe v. Wade ruling was resolved. Of the seven Justices that voted with the majority, five were Republican-appointed judges. Among them was Warren Burger, a "notable conservative" who avidly opposed gay rights and vocally opposed abortion, Lewis Powell, a World War II veteran and longtime conservative, and Harry Blackmun, the author of the majority decision and an established Republican - all of whom were Nixon appointees. The role these conservative Justices played in the ruling of the case was crucial, and it is necessary to recognize that the decision that was written opposed their personal political beliefs and was entirely determined on the basis of the 14th amendment. To determine how Justices such as Kavanaugh or Gorsuch would rule if a case were to be presented that could overturn Roe v. Wade, we would have better success looking to their past opinions on cases surrounding the 14th Amendment and what the right to privacy entails rather than their personal views.
Kavanaugh may be replacing Justice Kennedy, (who was known to be the deciding vote in many cases in which he often voted with the left) but USA Today claims "Kavanaugh is not as hard right as many of his critics (and some of his boosters) fear or hope." Although he may be able to be the vote that brings in cases that would not have previously been brought to the court in the past, Kavanaugh himself told senators that Roe is "settled law." His record as a judge indicates nothing but that he abides by the Constitution in his decisions, even if he must break from his own political belief to write an opinion.
If history dictates anything, and it often does, the court would require much more than Gorsuch and Kavanaugh to even hint at the possibility of the reversal of Roe v. Wade. Democrats have spent years pronouncing that every prominent right-leaning politician or Justice is a direct threat to women's access to abortion and that its prohibition is not only possible but imminent. Here we are today, 45 years after the legalization of abortion, and the same narrative continues. There is no indication currently that Roe v. Wade will be overturned, and in the highly unlikely scenario that it is, power over abortion rights would be returned to the states and many would continue to allow its legalization.
The idea that abortion will be outlawed at the hands of Republicans, after lasting this long, is a delusion that Democrats continue to bolster to alarm voters. Its used to sway the uninformed and encourage protest of unfounded claims. Be an informed voter come November. Do the research yourself, come to your own conclusions, and refuse to vote on account of baseless fear.