Do the Supreme Court Justices recall what the Constitutional ruling in Roe v Wade is based on? It is based on the “right to privacy which often means the right to personal autonomy, or the right to choose whether or not to engage in certain acts or have certain experiences.” Many individual rights to privacy and autonomy are protected in different amendments is the Constitution. In the 1972 case Roe v Wade, the Court ruled a woman’s right to have an abortion was protected by the right to privacy and autonomy in the Constitution’s 24th Amendment.
In a June 12, 2013 article in LiveScience, writer Tim Sharp explained, “The controversial case firmly established the right to privacy as fundamental, and required that any governmental infringement of that right to be justified by a compelling state interest. In Roe, the court ruled that the state’s compelling interest in preventing abortion and protecting the life of the mother outweighs a mother’s personal autonomy only after viability. Before viability, the mother’s right to privacy limits state interference due to the lack of a compelling state interest.”
The question of the viability of a fetus has been debated since a woman’s right to choose became law. The New York Times reported in 1997;
“Obstetricians and pediatricians say it is impossible to draw an exact line between viability and nonviability. Too many factors — the health and socioeconomic status of the mother, her access to medical care, the weight of the fetus and the maturity of its organs — come into play.” However, Christian conservatives argue that once fertilization occurs, the embryo is considered a viable life which gives the state the right to prohibit an abortion. Currently, scientists and medical doctors agree that a fetus is not considered able to survive outside the womb before 24-26 weeks. However, the conservatives view abortion through the lens of Christianity, citing the Bible’s reference to the “value of Jesus in the womb.” To the contrary, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttegieg, who is pro-choice, says the Bible talks about how ” life begins with the first breath.”
The Constitution is clear about the importance of the separation of church and state. Religious beliefs and biases should not be applied when establishing U.S. law. The challenge for the current conservative Christian Justices is to rule in support of the 40 year precedent decided in Roe v Wade that a woman’s right to obtain an abortion is protected by the right to privacy and autonomy which is protected by 14th Amendment.
The approval rating for the current Supreme Court stands at 40%. If the Trump-appointed Justices choose to issue rulings based on pleasing Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, or evangelical Christians, the diverse majority of Americans will figure out how to disregard the laws and retain their constitutionally protected rights.