OPINION - US Supreme Court set to overturn Roe v Wade

·2-min read
 (West End Final)
(West End Final)

In the popular imagination, democracies die when tanks roll onto the streets, leaders are captured and the state television station seized. But more often, their demise is brought about by notionally democratic institutions themselves.

Legislatures pass laws curtailing freedoms, executives sign them and packed courts comply. Precious liberties erased by the stroke of a pen and nary a bullet is fired.

The latest example of America’s democratic retreat was revealed in a leaked draft opinion from the US Supreme Court suggesting that Roe v Wade, the legal precedent protecting the right of women to access abortions, is set to be overturned.

Should the landmark 1973 ruling be formally quashed, abortion would overnight become illegal in 22 US states with so-called trigger laws, poised to come into effect in anticipation of the court’s decision.

Reproductive rights in the US have been gradually eroded in recent years. But this decision would represent a massive assault on the rights of millions of women to decide on their reproductive health and lead to desperate people seeking illegal and often dangerous procedures, as they do around the world where the practice is outlawed or restricted.

The reason why this is not simply a technical ruling but indicative of America’s illiberal march is that abortion rights are broadly supported in the US. According to Gallup, by a two-to-one margin, Americans support upholding Roe v Wade.

But US democracy does not operate in the traditional sense of promoting the wishes of the majority over those of the minority. In America, land votes.

This decision would mark a return to the days preceding Roe, when White men in black robes dictated what women could and could not do with their bodies. And with the court’s 6-3 conservative supermajority firmly entrenched, one is only left to wonder what rights will be withdrawn from other historically persecuted groups over the coming decades.

Elsewhere in the paper, City Hall Editor Ross Lydall goes viral in correcting Boris Johnson’s assertion that he brought in the Freedom Pass as Mayor of London.

The whole interview with Good Morning Britain’s Susanna Reid is car crash territory, including the part where the Prime Minister seemed not to know who Lorraine Kelly is.

In the comment pages, Nimco Ali writes that childcare is the frontline of the gender wars — let’s set women free. While Greens co-leader Carla Denyer says her party have answers where the old ones are failing.

And finally, Emily Phillips goes inside the reopening of Camden’s iconic club, Koko.

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