With a very conservative Supreme Court signaling it would obstruct or reverse a landmark abortion ruling Roe vs. Wade, further questions have been raised about other seemingly immutable rulings, particularly those regarding LGBTQ rights. In the fall, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health.
In 2018, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, an abortion clinic and center in Mississippi, challenged the Gestational Age Act, a law that prohibits abortions after the fifteenth week of pregnancy except in medical or emergency situations. fetal abnormalities. The U.S. District Court heard the case and entered summary judgment, finding the law unconstitutional, and halted enforcement.
The 5th Circuit accepted the court’s decision and the appeal was taken to the Supreme Court by the State of Mississippi. Roe vs. Wadethe landmark 1973 decision where the Supreme Court ruled that a state law banning abortion was unconstitutional legalized abortion in many circumstances, holding that a woman’s right to privacy extends to her fetus/unborn child.
Judge Sonia Sotomayor issued a warning, fearing the gutting of abortion laws could also undermine other “set in stone” laws and rulings, particularly those covering LGBTQ rights. During oral arguments heard in December at Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health, Judge Amy Coney Barrett asked Solicitor General Scott Stewart of Mississippi, who champions the state’s restrictive abortion law, if a ruling in their favor would affect the cases cited by Sotomayor. Stewart said cases involving contraception, same-sex marriage and the legality of sodomy would not be challenged because they involve “clear rules that have engendered strong trusting interests and have not produced negative consequences or all the many other negative stare decisis considerations we pointed out.”
Sotomayor was unhappy with the response, replying, “I just think you’re covering up when you say any decision here would have no effect on these.”
Sharon McGowen of Lambda Legal agreed with Sotomayor, saying cases like Lawrence v. Texas (2003, struck down sodomy laws) and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015, upheld same-sex marriage) “were built on the foundation of Roe…and the court’s other reproductive rights cases.
Abortion rights and LGBTQ rights have previously fallen under the Supreme Court’s interpretation of due process rights, which worries LGBTQ rights advocates. The ripple effects of gutting abortion laws and diminishing bodily autonomy could include allowing states to re-adopt and enforce sodomy laws and banning transgender health care, especially in states where the belief that gender-affirming care is considered self-harm.
Although not an immediate threat, it is something to watch and monitor very closely.
“The one thing I would point out is this: Roe’s takedown might affect LGBTQ people, but that’s not the only reason queer and trans people should care,” Marshall Martinez said, executive director of Equality New Mexico. “We believe our community should be fully engaged in abortion access because it’s the right thing to do, not because it’s just about Roe.”