(Elsa Woeffler) – The suspense is palpable, the stakes are enormous within the Supreme Court of the United States, the highest legal institution in the country, which wishes to call into question the right to abortion for American women. Indeed, a report on a draft ruling, drafted in February 2022 and published on the Politico website, has caused outrage. The bill would overturn the 1973 Roe v Wade case law, which protects the right of American citizens to terminate their pregnancies under the Fourth Amendment. Now, if the text is adopted in the new terms, it would send the country back some fifty years, leaving the choice to the states to legalize, or not, the right to abortion. A debate that has never ceased to divide the United States: “abortion is a structural political marker”, according to Simon Gravet, a French specialist in the history of law and justice in the United States, interviewed for LeMonde. Thus, unlike in Western democracies, where since the right to abortion was adopted in the respective country constitutions, opposition to this right has strongly diminished, in the United States this opposition has not waned.
This Republican offensive could therefore be the culmination of fifty years of ultra-right conservative movements. A discourse that has not changed in recent years and has even intensified. Indeed, since the decision of jurisprudence aiming to prohibit states from banning the right to abortion has not had the so-called “classic” route, the opponents are playing on this sensitive cord. Thus, the right to abortion is protected in the United States by a Supreme Court decision, not by the traditional political and democratic process.
As a result, some states, nine in total, still have laws prohibiting the right to abortion, they are no longer applicable but they have never been removed. Some states have restricted the right to abortion guaranteed by Roe v Wade, and if this bill is upheld by the Supreme Court, some states will not wait to implement it and ban the right.
The text is being negotiated until June 30, but some trends are already emerging. Indeed, several conservative states could apply the text, by banning the right to abortion from the outset. Among others, Louisiana, Arkansas and Missouri, but also Indiana and South Dakota will no longer support abortion rights.
Reversing the abortion rights of American citizens is a political earthquake, if the draft is validated by the Supreme Court. A dangerous right wing turn, which many other democracies are taking in 2022. Even though the states will be the only ones to be able to legislate on this decision, this political turnaround will be a cataclysm in the history of the United States but also in the world, where American influence still dominates. The risk for American women is twofold: not only is their right to body integrity compromised, but also numerous social and logistical fractures will appear. Indeed, some will have to travel a few thousand miles to terminate their pregnancies, while others, due to lack of means, will have to undergo an unwanted pregnancy.
This decision of the Supreme Court demonstrates the place that the extreme right is gradually taking in Western countries. Rights that were once taken for granted, are becoming important political markers and can change the politics of a country. Even in Europe, this right can be threatened, as in 2020, the right to abortion was only allowed in cases of incest or rape in Poland, adding a further restriction to access to abortion.