A relentless power grab is behind the Supreme Court’s attacks on abortion

Abortion supporters hold up signs condemning recent abortion restrictions and calling for the election of pro-choice candidates at a rally in Phoenix on Oct. 8, 2022. A day before, the Arizona Court of Appeals decided in favor of pausing a near-total abortion ban from 1864 while Planned Parenthood of Arizona challenges its reinstatement. Photo by Gloria Rebecca Gomez | Arizona Mirror

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the first of two cases on their docket that further threaten our reproductive freedom — this case could take mifepristone, the most common form of medication abortion, off the shelves, while the next could prevent emergency room physicians from providing life-saving abortion care. 

As an African American pastor working with clergy leaders throughout Arizona in the fight to ensure access to reproductive health care for all, I am keenly aware that those who already face structural barriers to care will disproportionately bear the burden stemming from our state’s ban, particularly African American, Latino, and Indigenous people. Arizona doctors have called out this reality themselves. 

As our communities brace for impact, it is clear that a relentless power grab, not respect for faith, is motivating these attacks.

Two years ago, the MAGA Supreme Court justices — including three Trump appointees — overturned nearly 50 years of legal precedent that affirmed our constitutional abortion rights. In its wake, Arizona’s 15-week ban, signed by then-Gov. Doug Ducey, went into effect. With the threat of prosecution hanging over their heads, our state’s major abortion providers immediately halted procedures, canceled appointments, and began to direct the 13,000 Arizona patients who get an abortion each year to seek care out of state. 

That was just the beginning. Now, the Arizona Supreme Court is weighing a decision that could take us back to an even more draconian abortion ban from 1864 — which would make abortion a felony punishable by two to five years in prison for anyone who performs or helps a patient obtain one. This would make Arizona among the most restrictive states in the country.

As a result of shuttering clinics, mifepristone — which is safer than Tylenol, and has been used by over 5 million people since the FDA approved it 20 years ago — has become an increasingly important form of abortion care in the Grand Canyon State. Should the nation’s highest court rule against our reproductive freedom in this case, Arizonans could face further harm and restrictions in our pursuit to access reproductive health care. 

Our elected leaders have the power to protect reproductive freedom and prevent the senseless suffering that these restrictions engender instead of making decisions about people’s health care for them, against their will, despite medical advice. Unfortunately, many legislative and judicial figures often hide behind a facade of faith to argue against our right to reproductive freedom, when the lessons of Christianity and other faiths would never condone this cruelty.  

Even if there were legitimate religious grounds to oppose abortion, America is not a theocracy, and one’s rights are not subject to a religious test imposed by the government.

Additionally, the mifepristone case is a sham — brought by a plaintiff organization that was founded just months after Roe was overturned. It is backed by far-right mega-donors who have perfected the art of manufacturing lawsuits to create a pipeline of extreme cases to their allies on the Supreme Court. This case simply should never have made it this far. So long as those with this unchecked power have no regard for fact, science, or precedent, we will continue to see our health care rights and freedoms dismantled by their lies and schemes

When the Supreme Court’s MAGA justices overturned our abortion rights, the majority “instructed” us to deal with it in our states if we didn’t like their ruling. That’s why, right here in Arizona, we’re taking matters into our own hands. Hundreds of thousands of Arizonans have already pledged their support to put abortion access on the ballot — and we’re on track to gather twice the required amount. 

It is also not lost on Arizonans that, a year prior to the Dobbs decision, the Supreme Court gutted major parts of the Voting Rights Act. The justices also upheld two Arizona voting restrictions that make it harder for absentee ballots to be collected and require any ballots cast in the wrong precinct to be thrown out, thus restricting another of our fundamental rights: the right to vote.

Congress has the authority and responsibility to put an end to this once and for all — we will get loud and turn out again and again to demand our elected leaders listen and act. Congress must hold the MAGA justices, and those who enable them, accountable. 

Congress must take bold action to reform the Supreme Court so that it fulfills its role as protector of our fundamental rights, rather than as a conspirator for anti-abortion extremists intent on gaining more power at the expense of the people of Arizona.

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