In 1973 seven dudes (the gender becomes relevant later) decided that US States had no right to legislate what women did with their uteruses specifically that States laws prohibiting abortion were unconstitutional. In 2022, four dudes and one women struck down Roe vs. Wade opening the floodgates to repressive State legislation.
On at least one point, the ruling is historically wrong – the make a big point about how many of the States had made abortion illegal in the 19th century; what they overlook (or gloss over) is that under English common-law, abortion was legal (and widely practiced) until the “quickening” (when it starts to move) of the foetus. Essentially that 19th century legislation removed a long-established right to abortion.
Of course the “pro-life” bunch are cock-a-hoop, although places where abortion is legal (and not just legal in name only where “pro-life” terrorists harass anyone visiting an abortion clinic) have fewer abortions than places where abortion is illegal.
Some of the reaction from the pro-choice has revealed some interesting misconceptions.
The first is the notion that this decision reverts the US back to the medieval era. It would be more accurate to say that when the States enact anti-abortion legislation, the situation becomes that of the early 20th century where abortion is illegal, but there are multiple campaigners. The medieval era was no shining light of liberalism, but abortion (before “quickening”) was legal or at worst treated by the church courts as a misdemeanor.
The second relates to gender – that this is men controlling women’s bodies. Well there’s certainly an element of truth there, but it isn’t quite that simple. Bear in mind that Roe vs Wade was enacted by seven old white dudes, and opposition to it is not exclusively male – those misguided justices that overturned it included one woman.
In addition, if we look at the wider US population support for prohibiting abortion, there is support amongst both genders – 40% amongst men and 37% amongst women (source: Pew research). A Gallop poll shows that 12% of women and 14% of men support prohibiting abortion in all circumstances.
No this is the result of a tiny minority of religious extremists having infiltrated the SCOTUS. They’re certainly misogynistic but it isn’t so much men as christofascists.