Abortion is a global health issue, impacting individuals and families regardless of ethnicity, income, social status or nationality. Yet there is no worldwide legal standard for the practice of terminating a pregnancy. Lawmakers and governments hold sway over access to abortion, or its abolition.
In the United States, the Supreme Court’s 24 June decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the court’s 1973 ruling ensuring abortion rights, toppled nearly 50 years of U.S. legal precedent by granting power to individual states to make their own abortion laws. The change dismantled the national protection of abortion as a choice in cases of medical emergencies or unwanted pregnancies.
The court’s ruling was shocking to some in the moment of announcement, but also unsurprising to those who have watched the court’s rightward shift, which was cemented with the addition of three conservative justices appointed by former President Donald Trump and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The nine Supreme Court justices hold lifetime appointments and Trump was able to add Neil Gorsuch (2017), Brett Kavanaugh (2018) and Amy Coney Barrett (2020) following the deaths of Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the retirement of Anthony Kennedy. The new lineup gave the court’s conservative wing enough votes to discard the abortion precedent.
BRIAN P. D. HANNON