Civil and Human Rights

RELEASE: If Constitutional Text and History Are the Guides, Roe Should be Upheld

WASHINGTON – Following oral argument today at the U.S. Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, over whether Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban is unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment and the landmark precedents Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Constitutional Accountability Center President Elizabeth Wydra issued the following reaction: 

Let there be no confusion: the Constitution protects the right to abortion in every state. To the extent that conservative justices suggested that the Court must remain “neutral” with respect to abortion regulations, they are wrong for the simple reason that the Constitution itself is not neutral when it comes to protecting fundamental rights, including bodily autonomy and reproductive liberty.

What shouldn’t be lost in today’s arguments is the first principle that the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees equal citizenship to all in America. It is a promise forged in the aftermath of the Civil War to, in part, combat the evils of chattel slavery. Against this horror—when people were forbidden to form families of their own, and enslaved women were treated as “object[s] to be raped, bred, or abused” and were forced to bear children and watch those children be sold—the Reconstruction Framers drafted the Fourteenth Amendment to be “the Declaration of Independence placed immutably and forever in our Constitution.” Denying people their bodily integrity and autonomy, however—as Mississippi’s abortion ban does—betrays the Fourteenth Amendment’s text and history and denies the promise of equal citizenship that it makes to all Americans.

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Resources:

CAC case page in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization: https://www.theusconstitution.org/litigation/dobbs-v-jackson-womens-health-organization/

“No, Really, Roe Is Supported by the Text and History of the Constitution,” David Gans, The Atlantic, November 1, 2021: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/11/roe-was-originalist-reading-constitution/620600/

CAC #PurpleChairChat, “Abortion Rights: What’s at Stake?” (online conversation between CAC President Elizabeth Wydra and Sister Song Executive Director Monica Simpson), October 28, 2021: https://www.theusconstitution.org/blog/abortion-rights-whats-at-stake/

“The Mississippi Abortion Case Threatens the Right to Use Birth Control, Marry, and Even Make Choices About Sex,” David Gans, Slate, October 12, 2021: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2021/10/mississippi-abortion-birth-control-lgbtq-scotus.html

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Constitutional Accountability Center is a think tank, public interest law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text and history. Visit CAC’s website at www.theusconstitution.org.

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