Since September, The U.S Supreme Court has heard three important cases on abortion: two challenging Texas’ dangerous abortion ban known as SB8, and one challenging Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban where anti-abortion extremists have overtly asked SCOTUS to overturn Roe v Wade.
We broke down each case for you in our last blog and gave an outlook from New Mexico, where abortion rights have essentially been solidified by New Mexicans who support the right to make decisions for themselves and their families. Now, SCOTUS is deciding on the fates of Texas, Mississippi, and 21 other states that risk losing abortion rights if the Justices decide to overturn Roe.
Now that the Supreme Court has heard all three cases on abortion, let’s talk about what happens next.
A Long, Grueling Process for The People
The Supreme Court begins hearing cases on the first Monday of October. They start with an “Order List”, which is a public report from the Justices on which cases they are going to hear and in what order. They have many cases to review, not just these incredibly time-sensitive and urgent cases on abortion. The session continues through late June and even sometimes into early July.
After hearing each case, which are called “sittings,” both the defendants and the prosecutors are allowed thirty minutes to argue their case before the Justices. Once that has been done, the Supreme Court goes into a “recess” where they begin writing their opinions. Both sittings and recess alternate on two-week intervals.
After that, in May and June of the following year, the Court sits to announce orders and opinions. This is the part where the public finally hears their majority and dissenting opinions.
We don’t blame you if reading through this short summary of the process was just as exhausting as waiting for them to decide on these current abortion cases.
Not All Justices
It’s no secret that the Court is stacked against the majority of the left-leaning population— with Justices Sotomayor, Kagen and Breyer on the left, there are 6 Justices who are notable conservatives.
Ex-President Donald Trump made sure to stack the Courts in his favor, with the most recent additions of Kavanaugh and Coney Barrett. Even while Trump is no longer President, and is under a slew of litigation that include inciting the January 6 insurrection of far-right extremists overtaking the Capitol, Trump has kept his promise on abortion to Republicans, conservatives and the religious right.
Now with a conservative-leaning court, Texas’ dangerous abortion ban and Mississippi’s case have been brought before the Supreme Court leaving abortion and our bodily autonomy in the hands of the Justices with their life-long appointments..
Even with a more conservative Court, the Justices on the left have stood boldly in defense of abortion rights. In the most recent hearing on Dobbs v Jacksons Women’s Health Organization, we heard Justice Sotomayor fearlessly stand with abortion rights advocates. Hitting the Court, defendants and audiences alike with facts and science. One of her most notable quotes of that hearing:
Justice Sotomayor: When does the life of a woman and putting her at risk enter the calculus? Meaning, right now, forcing women who are poor — and that’s 75 percent of the population and much higher percentage of those women in Mississippi who elect abortions before viability — they are put at a tremendously greater risk of medical complications and ending their life. [It’s] 14 times greater to give birth to a child full term, than it is to have an abortion before viability.
Justice Sotomayor highlighted important facts— people with uteruses,
especially people who are struggling financially, are being forced by anti-abortion extremists who are hell-bent on forcing a person who does not want to be pregnant to carry the child to term.
We’ve seen anti-abortion extremists resort to violence to force pregnant people to stay pregnant—including religious guilt that is ingrained in some of our minds from childhood, to fake clinics, to abortion restrictions, abortion bans and the dismissive, gaslighting statements by this obviously conservative court.
And honestly, why do anti-abortion extremists care so much? Do they care? Shouldn’t they be focused on the thousands of children who are awaiting adoption in the foster care system? Or the unaccompanied children who come to our country seeking the life that every child deserves? Or how about caring for the health and livelihood of the actual living person that is pregnant and does or does not want to be pregnant? From the looks of it, guess not. More on that later.
While We Wait…
Apparently, there is no urgency from the Supreme Court to block or strike down either of these abortion cases.
And while we wait, these bans will continue to harm people of color, people struggling financially, disabled people, those living in rural areas, and so many others. These laws were designed to force the hands of all health care centers that provide abortion and people who are pregnant and don’t want to be.
These laws are saddling them with lawsuits to consume their time and services and forcing the pregnant person to either seek abortion care in other states, traveling typically over 500 miles, or have no choice but to remain pregnant.
Some Updates So Far
While the Supreme Court recently announced that they are allowing some clinics in Texas to sue, they will not prevent enforcement of the law. The Court however, declined to rule on the DOJ’s challenge to SB8 and have sent it back to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which had previously lifted emergency relief. For now, the ban, which has been in effect for 100 days, will remain in effect and Texas patients and providers will continue to suffer under this constitutional law.
A Texas judge ruled that Texas’ abortion ban violates the Texas Constitution, saying it should not be enforced in the Court, making it a small win for Texans’ autonomy quality of life and health.
The Women’s Health Protection Act, which establishes a right for health care professionals to provide abortion care and the right for their patients to receive care, free from medically unnecessary restrictions that single out abortion care has been approved by the House. The bill now sits in the Senate, awaiting Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York to decide when to bring it to the floor for a vote.
What Can You Do?
There’s a lot that’s going on at the legislative level and in the Supreme Court. We’re just as nervous as you are, but there’s still things we can do.
- Contact your Senators Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan who are champions on our abortion rights. Thank them and tell them to hold strong for the Women’s Health Protection Act.
- Keep an eye on your local and state-wide elections to vote out anti-choice politicians.
- Donate and volunteer with abortion funds
- Speak out in your support for abortion and have open dialogue with friends and family on abortion and reproductive care. We must end stigma and shame together!
As anti-abortion lawmakers and extremists across the country attempt to pass abortion bans similar to Texas’ new law in their own states, we must speak out about these threats to abortion access, and demand that people have access to the health care they need, no matter where they live.
Abortion is safe and common, and we should be able to get care when we need it, without shame or stigma. And we won’t stop fighting for it.