I am not pro-abortion, and I am not anti-abortion. I stand in favor of a woman’s right to choose. I respect the opinions of others, and creating a forum for politically-charged issues is not the mission of the Best Friends at the Bar project. I have not wanted to pit my followers against each other in ways that would rend the fabric of support that I have created for women lawyers for almost 20 years.
I also was content to believe that the guarantees established by the landmark decision Roe v. Wade, and later upheld in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, would survive even the greatest judicial scrutiny. I was content to believe that we never would return to a time when women were forced to resort to dark alleys and butcher procedures in the large cities of America and to dangerous procedures at their own hands throughout the land. I was content to believe the now Supreme Court justices, who appeared to buttress the sanctity of the precedent of Roe during Congressional confirmation hearings.
However, my confidence in the Rule of Law and in the quality of the judiciary was misplaced. The right to choose an abortion, as established in Roe v. Wade and based upon the existence of fundamental rights of privacy in the US Constitution, was dealt a devastating blow yesterday when the Supreme Court overturned Roe and left millions of women in America defenseless by putting the abortion decision in the hands of elected officials in state legislatures.
As a result of yesterday’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, women in their reproductive years, which includes many young women lawyers I have advocated for over these many years, now must worry about where they live and whether they reside in a state that has already curtailed or intends to curtail the right to choose. Now so many mothers have to worry about their daughters and their granddaughters and what their future dilemmas and choices may be. Now women, who would choose abortion but cannot afford to travel to a jurisdiction where that right is protected, will be forced to make another decision, and now we must be wary of the vulnerability of other privacy rights, including the right to love and marry who one chooses.
These subjects were addressed yesterday by the chair of a Big Law firm, and her sentiments echo my own. Here is part of what Julie Jones of Ropes & Gray wrote to her law firm colleagues, as reported on Above the Law:
“This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, ending 50 years of federal constitutional protection of abortion rights. The Dobbs ruling has created extraordinarily strong feelings in many of us. As a lawyer, I reflect on Supreme Court jurisprudence, the principle of stare decisis and the future of privacy rights and other civil right protections in the United States. As a woman, I have a profound feeling of vulnerability caused by the elimination of a long-standing right of women – a right that affects their bodies and their agency. As a person with privilege, I recognize and worry about the decision’s disproportionate impact on women with limited resources. As an American, I fear the divisive nature of this topic will further fracture an already angry and divided citizenry.”
Now we have so much more to worry about.