Every poll in recent times, including one last month, show that a significant majority of people in the U.S. support the legal right to choose abortion as determined in the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling of 1973. The November 2021 poll by ABC News and the Washington Post found that 60 percent of those polled supported Roe v. Wade while 27 percent favored overturning it. If this had been an actual vote, the right to abortion would continue to be law in the U.S.
But that’s not the way law is determined in the U.S. On December 1, the Supreme Court held a hearing on a new law in Mississippi that prohibits termination of pregnancies after 15 weeks. The standard in Roe v. Wade is “viability,” that is, whether a fetus could live outside the womb, which normally is close to six months. Reducing that threshold to 15 weeks would significantly eliminate the possibility of abortion for many women. And the way members of the Supreme Court sounded on December 1, the majority are likely to support the Mississippi law.
That would fly in the face of what most people want. But the decision won’t be made by most people. It will be made by the nine members of the court, political appointees who get this position for the rest of their lives if they want it. How is that democratic? Three of the nine were appointed by Trump. And no one, not the president, not Congress, and certainly not ordinary people, can get rid of them.
We don’t believe that the members of the Supreme Court have the right to make such important and intimate decisions for us. But the U.S. Constitution, written over two hundred years ago in a slave society where women had no vote, says the Supreme Court can interpret the law as it likes.
For many decades, the Supreme Court upheld slavery and the disenfranchisement of women. But people went into the streets and many went to prison and many gave their lives in the fight for freedom. And they forced the government, including the Supreme Court, to change the rules. The struggle must continue. If we don’t fight, we can’t win.