Linda Coffey, a lawyer who represented Jane Roe in the historic Roe v. Wade case, warned that if the Supreme Court decided to remove the constitutional right to privacy, it would be “a huge step back in American history”, to which it is related to. A person’s right to have an abortion.
“My co-lawyer Sarah Weddington and I have built a right to privacy for American women, not only in abortion law, but in all parts of one’s private life,” Coffey wrote in The New Republic on Wednesday.
Unless the court decides to repeal the harsh state laws prohibiting abortion, Coffee said, the federal standard established with Roe will no longer apply.
“As a result, after half a century of freedom to exercise their constitutional right to privacy, women seeking an abortion will be required to travel to abortion-friendly states, trips that will cost time, money, and emotional upheaval. – trips that nothing will make,” wrote Coffee.
According to data reviewed by the Associated Press, people from marginalized groups who have limited access to health care would be most affected if the Supreme Court reversed the row.
“But perhaps most important, the loss of the right to privacy and the ability of American women to make their own decisions about pregnancy signifies a loss of dignity. This is a major step forward in American history,” wrote Coffey.
Oklahoma this week became the latest red state to limit abortion. Republican Governor Kevin Stitt signed the “Oklahoma Heartbeat Act,” which bans abortions at about six weeks or after a fetal heartbeat is detected.
The Supreme Court has not officially announced its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which is based on a Mississippi law that bans abortions at 15 weeks. But a leaked draft of the majority opinion authored by Justice Samuel Alito shows the court is prepared to overturn both Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the latter ruling on abortion rights.
“Cry was seriously wrong from the start,” Alito wrote in the draft, which was published by Politico on Monday. “We believe that Roe and Casey should be dismissed. … It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the elected representatives of the people.”
President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that such a decision would have far-reaching consequences.
“It’s so much more than abortion,” Biden said. “The idea that somehow there’s no right to privacy… What if you have a state that changes the law to say LGBTQ kids can’t be in classes with other kids?”
Coffey echoed Biden’s concerns about which constitutional rights could be attacked next.
“What other freedoms will Americans see if their right to privacy ends in America?” Coffee wrote. “We must think rapidly and deeply about this and what it means to undermine any rights guaranteed by the US Constitution before it is too late.”
Read the full excerpt from Coffee in The New Republic here.