The Future of Roe v. Wade Looks Bleak

EDWARD WU: Justice Kavanaugh refused to properly clarify his opinion on Roe v. Wade throughout his confirmation hearings. All Kavanaugh offered was that he believed that Roe v. Wade is an “important precedent.” This was enough for Senator Susan Collins, who believed that Kavanaugh would refer to precedence and not overturn Roe v. Wade. However, on the Supreme Court’s first ruling on abortion since Kavanaugh assumed office, Justice Kavanaugh demonstrated his disregard for the precedent regarding abortion.

Last Thursday, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to block a Louisiana abortion law that critics argued would force abortion clinics to close. The Louisiana law, originally written in 2014, requires abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at a hospital. The Supreme Court has already ruled on this matter. In Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt (2015), the Supreme Court ruled that a Texas law, which included forcing abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at a hospital, was unconstitutional by placing an undue burden on women and abortion clinics.

Chief Justice Roberts joined the four liberal justices in blocking the Louisiana law. Importantly, this block is only a temporary measure until the Supreme Court rules directly on the law next October.

Despite the clear legal precedence on the contrary, Justice Kavanaugh stood against blocking the Louisiana law. Senator Collins cited Kavanaugh’s respect for precedence as his tacit support of Roe v. Wade, but it is clear that Kavanaugh is willing to rule against the precedent to undermine a woman’s right to an abortion. His belief that Roe v. Wade is an “important precedent” does not stop him from ruling against it if a case is brought before him.

The Supreme Court’s ruling next October on this law will further clarify the future of legal abortion in the United States. It seems inevitable that some group will challenge Roe v. Wade in court. If it is ruled on by this majority-conservative Supreme Court, the court may overturn Roe v. Wade opening the door to criminalizing abortion.

Max Magid