A leaked Politico report recently revealed that five of the nine sitting Supreme Court justices (Amy Coney Barrett, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Brett Cavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch) privately voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that deemed abortion a federally protected constitutional right. While initial votes on cases sometimes change before the final draft, given the makeup of the court, it seems likely that these votes will stand, overturning what has been a protected right for nearly fifty years. Many states have trigger laws on the books, laws that, if Roe v. Wade is overturned, would immediately go into effect that ban abortion outright. Texas included.
Although several of these justices said that Roe v. Wade was “precedent” in their confirmation hearings, it was clear that this was a veiled answer meant to dodge their actual opinions on Roe and whether it should be overturned. What’s clear is that this case being overturned isn’t actually going to prevent abortions. Rather, them being outlawed in over a dozen states will simply make them less safe. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, has gone on record saying that if Republicans came into power, a nationwide ban on abortion would be a possibility.
What’s tragic is that many conservatives label themselves as staunchly pro-life, but you can see in Republican policies that that’s hardly the case. Where is healthcare as a guaranteed right for everyone in our nation? Comprehensive education reform, including universal kindergarten? Paid family and medical leave? It’s rare that any of these issues are supported by conservative politicians. Rather than being pro-life, it comes off as simply being pro-birth. Forcing a woman to carry a pregnancy to term, and hardly any agenda to care for it after the fact is about control, and it’s naive to think that no abortions will happen in a post Roe world. Those with money and resources will still be able to access it.
This leaked report puts into perspective how fragile our rights are. Society doesn’t always progress in a linear line, and rights that are won aren’t guaranteed to be in place forever. With conservatives having a supermajority on the Supreme Court, something like Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that federally guaranteed same-sex couples the right to marry, feels a lot more fragile. A lot of the court packing during the Trump administration, and even the denial of a confirmation process for current Attorney General Merrick Garland when former President Barack Obama had the opportunity to fill the vacancy left by Antonin Scalia’s passing, has lead up to this moment. Roe v. Wade being overturned has been a chief objective of the conservative movement for decades.
On May 18, President Joe Biden invoked the Defense Protection Act to ramp up production of baby formula and address the shortage being felt across the country. Part of the shortage has been tied to Abbott Laboratories, a massive producer of baby formula in the U.S., shutting down amid safety and sanitation concerns. Congress has also passed the Access to Baby Formula Act, which makes it easier for lower income families to purchase formula with benefits through a federal program known as the Woman, Infants and Children (WIC) program.