A landmark judgment, an issue that tore the country into Pro Life and Pro Choice camps and a major difference in view points between the Democrats and Republicans has been the law on abortion. Roe V Wade was a judgment that came about in the USA at a time when the civil rights movement was shaping, women’s rights movements were shaping and the societal structure was starting to be overturned.
To give some background about the case, in 1971 the case was filed by a woman named Norma McCorvey known officially as Jane Roe, in the state of Texas. In Texas, abortion was prohibited except in the cases where there was harm to the life of the woman. The question before the Court was whether or not a woman had a constitutional right to obtain abortion thereby making void the Texas prohibition. After intense debate and dissent, the verdict was a 7-2 in overturning the law against abortion. The Court held that the right of a woman to seek abortion was protected under the constitution as a Right to Privacy which is protected under the 14th Amendment. The dissent in Roe V Wade was on two principles. Justice White dissented on the grounds that the Court could not engage in ‘raw judicial processes’ and that the Court did not have any rights to strike down an individual state’s rulings and laws. Justice Rehnquist dissented because there were historical evidences of states limiting and regulating access to abortion in the 1860s, which was also the time when the 14th Amendment came into force. This had to mean that there was never a constitutional intent of protecting the right to abortion in the 14th Amendment. Due to this contradiction he did not accept the right to privacy argument. Judge Rehnquist is who Kavanaugh holds supreme in his list of legal idols. What does this mean? This means that Kavanaugh is an originalist and would thus interpret the constitution in the exact way it was written for a society that functioned 250 years ago, and would believe it to be stable as an enactment. An analysis covering the period 2003–2018 found that Kavanaugh had the most or second-most conservative voting record on the D.C. Court in every policy area (Source: Washington Post)
The sad fact is that, Kavanaugh replaced Justice Antony M Kennedy, who was often the moderate and the deciding vote in a highly divided bench. His votes have turned judgments from being extreme right and now this balance is off. The Conservative agenda of overturning Roe V Wade is finally in place, with the final masterpiece being Kavanaugh. This does not end here either. The term for a Justice is indeterminable by Governments and they can continue to rule till death or voluntary retirement, in the United States. So not only will the bench be right favoring, but will be so for a long period of time. All of us are aware of the obvious harm of having someone with allegations of sexual assault on such an esteemed and powerful pedestal in addition to a sexist President. But Overturning of Roe V Wade could be far more threatening to society. Let us recall what we have read in Freakonomics, an International bestseller.
For those of us who have not, here goes. Crime rates in the United States were at an all-time high until before the 90s. Many criminologists predicted an increase in the crime rate by 15% to even 100% in some areas. Quite contrary to that, the rates in the 1990s fell by 50%. Popular theories although convincing, were not accurate. The reasons cited for reduction were globalization, economic boom, stringent gun laws, police frisking and the like. What actually drastically changed the landscape, unknowingly and most effectively was Roe V Wade. The legalization of abortion made those poor women from ghettoized areas, who are uneducated avail the chance to never bring a child into the world. This child would not be born, only to take up guns, rob and assault people for survival. It is far more likely for these children to resort to criminal activities because of their lifestyle.
The crime rates were reduced not by mechanisms, but by accident. This made us realize the effect that abortion can have to the society. Yes, an individual woman’s autonomy over the body is the primary principle but the impact is far more. Imagine this, in today’s America. The marginalized communities remain and are living in an increasingly racist atmosphere. With Trump’s roll back on Medicare for all, 45000 Americans on a daily basis do not have access to these services because of lack of affordability. A major portion of these will be the ghettoized communities living in poverty. With all civil liberties and conditions of good living taken away from them, a reversal on abortions will create an explosion of population in their communities. What would this lead to? The cycle of continuously soaring rates of crime. To be able to envision the far reaching impact, we need someone who is not already extreme right, who has the ability to sympathize with the powerless and the minority, and is not an originalist in his views. We may never have all that in a Judge, but Kavanaugh is certainly the farthest from there.
Picture Credits : usatoday.com