Contraception, gay marriage… After abortion, these other rights that could be threatened in the United States

Contraception, gay marriage... After abortion, these other rights that could be threatened in the United States

Gay marriage, contraception or even sexual relations between people of the same sex could be in danger in the United States, after the suppression of the jurisprudence allowing access to abortion.

The annulment of the Roe V. Wade judgment, which no longer prevents abortion from being banned in American states, could have multiple consequences for society, beyond abortion itself. “In future cases” also concerning privacy, “we should review all the case law”, for example wrote the judge of the high court Clarence Thomas, in a personal argument which accompanies the decision rendered on Friday .

“This decision of the Supreme Court leaves other possibilities open”, explains on BFMTV Dominique Simonnet, specialist in the United States, who speaks of an “offensive of a current in the United States which has developed from a extremely strong way for the last decades. I am talking about this fundamentalist conservative current supported a lot by lobbies, churches, and which has taken control of the Republican Party and its most extremist fringe.

• Gay rights and contraception at stake

“On the side of other rights to privacy, there are three rights that are threatened, this is in particular the opinion of Judge Thomas”, explains on our antenna the specialist in the United States François Durpaire. Clarence Thomas has indeed clearly cited “Griswold v. Connecticut” of 1965, which enshrines the right to contraception, “Lawrence v. Texas” of 2003, which renders unconstitutional laws criminalizing sexual relations between people of the same sex. And, also, “Obergefell v. Hodges”, the 2015 judgment protecting marriage for all at the level of the United States, and which remains a priority target of the religious right.

According to Judge Clarence Thomas, these jurisprudences being based on the same provision of the Constitution as the one, now invalidated, which protected the right to abortion, the Court has “the duty to ‘correct the error'” that they had established.

US President Joe Biden recalled that he had “warned” of the possible consequences of this decision on other rights “that we take for granted”, such as access to contraception or the right “to marry the person we ‘WE love”. “This is an extreme and dangerous road that the Supreme Court has taken us down,” did he declare.

Friday’s decision writes in black and white that “nothing in this judgment should be interpreted as calling into question jurisprudence unrelated to abortion”. But the worry is there. Within the Supreme Court itself, the three progressive justices dissented from the majority, which they said “endangers other privacy rights, such as contraception and same-sex marriages”.

The right to privacy questioned

Beyond the outright lifting of the right to abortion, the lifting of the Roe v. Wade is indeed about Americans’ right to privacy, because this 1973 ruling doesn’t just say that abortion is now legal in the United States. It explains that the right to respect for private life, guaranteed by the American Constitution, applies to abortion, and therefore that it is forbidden to prohibit it.

“The right to respect for private life, present in the 14th Amendment of the Constitution (…) is sufficiently broad to apply to a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy”, can we read in the final text of Roe v. Wade.

By lifting this decision, the Supreme Court therefore excludes abortion from the right to privacy, and could in this sense exclude other current rules protected by this right to privacy, such as those mentioned above.

“We saw in Texas that at the time, anti-sodomy laws were being overturned based on the right to privacy established by Roe,” explains in an intervention the American Democratic representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “By reversing Roe, we are reversing the right to privacy established by Roe. And that will have ripple effects for people, regardless of their views on abortion, they will wake up with less rights.”

• Consequences on access to the abortion pill

In France, the High Council for Equality between Women and Men (HCE) also expresses its concern about access for American women to the abortion pill – allowing them to circumvent the ban on abortion in States concerned – which can be sent by post.

The American Planned Parenthood estimates that an abortion pill can already cost up to 750 dollars today, “even if it is often less”. They cost from 40 to 600 dollars”, explains the association National Women’s Health Network. However, not all women in demand can always pay so much, and the number of people able to provide them will decrease if prices increase.

François Durpaire also recalls that in the United States women “the most disadvantaged in the population” are already more at risk in this type of situation: “Black, Aboriginal and Hispanic women are three times more likely to die pregnant than white women from higher social classes”.

women in mortal danger

“The withdrawal of the right to abortion, women will die, it will cause the death of women”, recalls on BFMTV Floriane Volt, spokesperson for the Women’s Foundation. They “are not going to stop having abortions, they are just going to stop having access to safe abortion without medical risk. They are going to take risks and World Planned Parenthood estimates that in the first year of this decision, the mortality of women related to abortion will increase by 20%”.

Beyond women seeking an abortion for an unwanted pregnancy, there are also those who must end their pregnancy because it puts their health at risk, such as ectopic pregnancies. If the latest abortion bans make exceptions for these particular medical cases, doctors are worried in the New York Times of the future, in particular the confusion that this could create for some women, who will not be certain of having the right to terminate their pregnancy, despite the danger they run.

“We are already seeing on Twitter and elsewhere doctors who are afraid to treat ectopic pregnancies,” Dr. Aileen Gariepy also told the American newspaper. “This confusion is really scary for a lot of people who don’t know what to do, or whether or not they can treat ectopic pregnancies.”

This decision could also influence the future of other women in the world, as recalled by the High Council for Equality between Women and Men. “International NGOs supporting the right to abortion and contraception in different countries around the world are warning about the possibility of a withdrawal of American funding that could weaken or even put an end to their action”, he explains, this who would withdraw vital help for other women.

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