How does one make sense of a ruling that overturns a woman’s constitutional right to her body and soul? The US Supreme Court in its all inexplicable wisdom has delivered a severe blow to...
How does one make sense of a ruling that overturns a woman’s constitutional right to her body and soul? The US Supreme Court in its all inexplicable wisdom has delivered a severe blow to American women’s struggle for autonomy over their bodies. While the verdict pertains to the US, it will have its implications in other countries too – each facing a challenge from a rising right-wing order. The apex court of the US has gone against a 1973 ruling in the Roe v Wade case that recognized a woman’s right to abortion and legalized it countrywide. If 1973 was a landmark year, June 2022 will go down as a devastating month that deprived American women of a right they had enjoyed for nearly half a century. This highly misogynist ruling is likely to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states in the US. Progressives, human rights groups and women’s associations have decried the new ruling which is nothing short of horrifying. This is also possibly the most damning legacy left by former president Trump, since the American Supreme Court has a 6-3 conservative majority, three of the judges having been appointed during Trump’s time in power.
No country can claim to be a democracy or a just society unless it takes into account the concerns of all its citizens, which includes women as equal stakeholders. One would think that a land that claims to not only be the most developed but also takes it upon itself to lecture the whole world on ethics, rights and politics would – in the 21st century – allow men and women the right to make informed decisions about their bodies. No one, in any land, should be able to deprive a woman of her right over her body. It is unfortunate that the US Supreme Court has pandered to the regressive self-styled guardians of morality over an issue that has been brewing since the 70s, and has been fiercely protected by rights groups and progressive judges. This is not a ban on abortions; it is a ban on safe abortions and will likely lead to more women’s lives will being risked at getting illegal abortions.
Most countries in the world – including the US – are not welfare states meaning that they do not provide pregnant women with state-funded pre- and post-natal care. A pregnant woman in the US finds herself at the mercy of the elements if she is without insurance or a proper job that covers maternity leave and healthcare. Most societies that ban abortions abandon women to their own devices once they are out of labour. The American judiciary has effectively tied the hands of even healthcare workers who now will not be able to help women, otherwise they may end up in jail. This is an historic mistake by the Supreme Court of the US, one that will take a long time to be corrected. In the meantime, women’s bodies once again become the site of political contestation.