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FFRF condemns Supreme Court and Speaker Johnson on Roe’s (nullified) anniversary

Theocracy PregnantLadyLiberty

Today ought to have been the 51st anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court ruling, Roe v. Wade.

Roe was a landmark, recognizing “the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child.” In a massive blow to personal liberty and gift to the zealous anti-abortion lobby, however, the extremist supermajority on the U.S. Supreme Court  with its infamous Dobbs decision overturned Roe even before it could reach its half century mark. 

It is despicable that Mike Johnson, the Christian nationalist House speaker, addressed last Friday’s march by anti-abortionists in front of the U.S. Capitol and Supreme Court building. Johnson is no stranger to such marches but his surprise promotion netted him a prime speaking slot this year. He told the crowd, “I am myself the product of an unplanned pregnancy” and, according to the New York Times, rallied the attendees to fight President Biden’s laudable proposed administrative rule to restrict federal funds from going to phony anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers (overwhelmingly allied with Christian ministries).

Where are abortion rights today on this beleaguered anniversary? In a very scary place.

As many as fourteen states have banned almost all abortions, another two have banned abortion by six weeks, yet another two at 12 weeks and three at 15–18 weeks. Most of the ban states are south of the Mason-Dixon line, not surprising since the Supreme Court lobbed abortion back to states as a “states’ rights issue,” which always signals regression and danger to civil liberties. Only Florida has not yet joined the Southern ban bloc, only thanks to complicated ongoing court challenges. Thrillingly, protection of abortion rights will be on the November ballot there.

The first death due to these bans has been documented, but doubtless there have been many others, since the lives of women, especially those carrying high-risk pregnancies, are being cavalierly gambled with. Seemingly every day another Christian nationalist state legislator proposes another draconian bill, such as to deny the right to travel out of state to procure an abortion. Infant mortality has risen for the first time in two decades. 

Not just one but two desperately important legal cases will be heard this term by the U.S. Supreme Court. The use and access to medication abortion, the preferred method chosen by American women today to end unwanted pregnancies, is at stake in one case. That case was manufactured and judge-shopped by a Christian anti-abortion group to go before the U.S. District Court John Kacsmarcyk, the only federal judge serving the area of Amarillo, Texas. Kacsmarcyk previously worked for Christian nationalist groups and FFRF strongly opposed his nomination. Not surprisingly, he issued a nationwide ban on mifepristone, the first of a two-part regimen inducing miscarriage, a ban that would have upended abortion care nationwide. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals only partially knocked down this ban, reducing the current legality of mifepristone from 10 to seven weeks and barring its distribution via telehealth. The Supreme Court, which had put the appeal court decision on hold, will rule next. 

Will the court, which in the Dobbs decision claimed it was turning the question of abortion rights back to the states, hypocritically now rule that the courts can be the final arbiter of abortion rights rather than state legislators? Will it go against Big Pharma in interfering with the rights of mifepristone’s manufacturer? Will it finally have the integrity and guts to negate the entire controversy by properly ruling the plaintiffs have no standing to sue? So much is at stake with this case.

Just a few weeks ago, the high court alarmingly accepted yet another appeal out of Idaho. Not only did the court issue an emergency ruling at the behest of the pernicious Christian nationalist Alliance Defending Freedom, temporarily lifting a lower court order blocking enforcement of Idaho’s near-complete abortion ban related to emergency care, but it took the case itself. At stake is the Biden administration’s enforcement of the rights of pregnant patients and their doctors under the 1986 Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, which requires hospitals to “stabilize” patients with emergency medical conditions. The Biden administration has pointed out that this requires stabilizing pregnant patients.

The good news is that a majority of Americans continue to support abortion rights. We must draw succor from the fact that so far reproductive rights advocates have prevailed in every state ballot initiative on the issue, even though anti-abortionists are fighting hard to thwart democracy and suppress votes. Seven statewide ballot initiatives on abortion rights since 2022 in fact have resulted in firm victories for abortion rights proponents, even in conservative strongholds like Kansas, Kentucky and Ohio. 

The November pro-abortion referendum in Florida joins at least two other states with confirmed ballot measures on abortion this year. Pro-choice amendments are pending in Arizona, Arkansas, Montana, Nevada and South Dakota. There are dueling pro- and anti-abortion referenda in the works in Colorado, Missouri and Nebraska, with two states, Iowa and Pennsylvania, considering anti-abortion amendments.

Ultimately, many observers believe the fate of abortion rights in the United States rests on the outcome of the 2024 state and federal elections, where voting on abortion rights may even provide a coattail effect. It’s laudable that fully 98 percent of FFRF’s 40,000 members are registered voters. We must work hard to persuade Generation Z seculars to vote their secular values.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 40,000 members across the country. Our purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

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