Abortion Revisited

With a conservative majority, the U.S. Supreme Court will debate women’s right to legal abortion.

The United States Supreme Court has announced that it will analyze a case that could change the country’s jurisprudence on women’s right to legal abortion. The action deals with a law passed in Mississippi in 2018, which prohibits the termination of pregnancy after the 15th week of the gestation period.

Depending on the decision of the court’s conservative majority, regulations on the matter may be defined state by state, and no longer at the federal level.

A right established in the country since 1973’s Roe v. Wade decision is at stake. At that time, the possibility of abortion was established if the fetus is unable to survive outside the uterus (usually until around the 23rd or 24th week of gestation).

There have been many attempts by anti-abortion groups to provoke the Supreme Court to revise the precedent, especially in more conservative states. Restrictions in local legislation have been more common, such as mandatory counseling, waiting periods and bureaucratic hurdles.

The Supreme Court has intervened in regulations of this nature in two recent episodes. In June 2020, it vetoed 5-4 a Louisiana rule that required doctors who perform abortions to enter into an agreement with a hospital near their work location. In a 2016 decision, it overturned a Texas rule that imposed strict conditions on doctors and abortion clinics in the state.

With the appointment of Justice Amy Coney Barrett by former President Donald Trump, conservatives now have six of nine seats in the court. The pending ruling is expected to be pronounced only in mid-2022, the midterm election year.

Note that, unlike the Brazilian Supreme Court, the U.S. Supreme Court chooses which cases to accept. Therefore, it is a conscious movement to be made by the judges, with an impact on the country’s political debate.

Opinion polls reveal that most Americans (between 60% and 70%, depending on the survey) do not want the court to reverse the Roe v. Wade precedent.

The opinion of this newspaper is that termination of pregnancy by decision of pregnant women should be treated from the perspective of public health, not criminal law. The procedure under the conditions established by law must be a right of women, as is the case in most developed democracies.

Brazil would do well to expand the possibilities for legal abortion; the United States should avoid setbacks in this matter.

Editor’s note: The original language publication of this article is accessible with a paid subscription

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