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A Requiem for Women’s Rights in America

The US Supreme Court’s politically motivated decision abolishing the constitutional right to abortion augurs a dark future in which the majority of Americans will be subject to the dictates of a religious conservative minority. As is often the case under such regimes, women will suffer the most.

BERKELEY – The US Supreme Court’s elimination of the right to abortion is a devastating setback for American women. Never in its history has the Court rescinded an individual right. For those of us who have fought for women’s social and economic equality throughout our entire professional lives, the ruling is personal.

I was 25 when Roe v. Wade established a constitutional right to abortion. For almost 50 years, Roe gave women reproductive freedom – and, with it, a new and rightful place in the economy and society. It was that freedom that enabled my colleagues and me to make the same kind of family and career choices as our male counterparts. It is horrifying to think that my two young granddaughters will lack the same freedom.

The Dobbs decision was based on a narrow interpretation of the Constitution, a document that – for all its brilliance – was written 236 years ago by a small group of wealthy men (many of them slave owners). Women did not participate in the drafting and are not mentioned in the text. Not until 1919 was the Constitution amended to grant women the right to vote. But, more to the point, the constitutional arguments justifying the Dobbs decision are a fig leaf. The Supreme Court’s conservative majority overturned Roe not because the Constitution demanded it but simply because it could.

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