The United States Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is a disgrace to the American values of freedom and equality, and a betrayal of the United States Constitution.
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave? The National Anthem ends with a question mark — a symbol of uncertainty, not reassurance. For centuries, the United States Government and the American people alike have been grappling with the concept of freedom. The history of this nation is scarred and stained by the injustices of slavery, genocide, and widespread suppression, so it is no wonder that freedom is a question and not a guarantee. Now, after over a century of slow but promising progress, the nation once again marches blindly into the realm of discrimination and inequality. So, once more, freedom bears a question mark — one that impacts half of the country’s population. Are women equal citizens? Are we free?
With the recent ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court loudly proclaimed that women are indeed inequal. That we are not free. The six conservative justices on the Court slaughtered Roe v. Wade alongside a woman’s right to choose her own destiny. Conservatives constantly claim to be champions of individual freedoms: they unapologetically support the right to bear arms and own guns, the right to be free from extensive government regulation, and the right to make one’s own choices and not be constrained by a distant and removed authority. However, when it comes to a woman's right to control her own body, they betray their own principles. The right to abortion is fundamentally rooted in freedom. We are living in a world of contradictions in which women have paid the price for their oppressors’ hypocrisies.
In overturning Roe, not only did Chief Justice John Roberts, along with the majority’s five conservative justices, reject freedom at its core, but they also ignored precedent and multiple sections of the U.S. Constitution.
The Fourteenth Amendment provides a legal guarantee to equality and protection against discrimination. It states, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” The Dobbs ruling does exactly what this amendment prohibits: it abridges the privileges of women, who are citizens of the United States, by blatantly denying them the right to control what belongs to them — their own bodies. In doing so, the Supreme Court violates personal liberty, disregarding a founding principle of American democracy.
The First Amendment protects the right to worship freely while also ensuring that church and state remain separate. It states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” In the current political climate, it is extremely hard to view restrictions on abortion separately from the religious beliefs that demanded these constraints in the first place. Conservative Christians have been some of the most outspoken supporters of the pro-life movement, but allowing their religious beliefs to dictate the laws of this country is a clear violation of the First Amendment. Furthermore, the religious make-up of the Supreme Court is not representative of the religious make-up of the American people. Six of the nine justices who presided over the Dobbs case are Catholic. This equates to about 67 percent of the Court; however, only around 20 percent of the American population identify as Catholic, meaning that a minority in power is able to force their controversial ideals onto the majority.
The United States Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is indeed a tragedy. It violates the American ideals of freedom, liberty, and equality, and it betrays the principles enshrined in the United States Constitution, once again making women’s status as equal citizens a question and not a guarantee.
Kaymen Noel Story is a first-year student double majoring in International Studies and Political Science. She is a Staff Writer for the Agora.