Mon | Sep 26, 2022

‘This is sacred’

J’can women in US shocked by leaked draft opinion on abortion law

Published:Wednesday | May 4, 2022 | 12:13 AMLester Hinds/Gleaner Writer
Congresswoman Yvette Clarke.
Congresswoman Yvette Clarke.

NEW YORK: Jamaican women in the diaspora have expressed shock at a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion which could end the constitutional right to an abortion in about half of American states. The Supreme Court ruling was due to be released in...

NEW YORK:

Jamaican women in the diaspora have expressed shock at a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion which could end the constitutional right to an abortion in about half of American states.

The Supreme Court ruling was due to be released in summer, with many Americans anticipating that it would have reversed the landmark Roe v Wade ruling made in 1973 making abortions legal across the country. But the leak of the draft opinion on Monday sent ripples across the globe.

Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, who is of Jamaican heritage, said that the leaked draft amounts to an all-out assault on women’s reproductive rights and freedoms.

“ ... It is a political act by an extreme and hostile Supreme Court. Fifty years ago, it was established that every woman has the right to the control of her body, a right that already existed for every man. And yet, here we are again, facing another egregious wrong with this draft opinion from Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr, seeking to make an argument for stripping away women’s reproductive rights,” she said. “ ... It’s clear [that] we must strengthen our resolve to fiercely protect every woman’s right to choose their healthcare and make reproductive decisions.”

The congresswoman said it is critical that Congress ends the filibuster and make the Women’s Health Protection Act law.

The Reverend Dr Karen R. Green, a Democratic candidate for the 7th Congressional District in Florida and vice chair of the Florida Democratic Party, called on Congress to codify the right of a woman to choose, and affirm the “settled law of the land”.

“It is with a sense of alarm that I, like many others, am being made aware that the conservative majority on the present Supreme Court no longer regards this as settled law and no longer adhere to precedents,” she said.

Green added that the reversal could take the United States back to a time when abortions were performed by unprofessional people in back alleys, leading to the deaths of many poor women who could not afford to travel abroad for the procedure.

She questioned whether this could be the start of a wide-scale reversal of other rulings considered settled law.

Dr Millicent Comrie, an ob-gyn and head of a women’s centre in Brooklyn, New York, decried the opinion.

She argued that those who oppose abortion are not seeing the bigger picture and spoke of the psychological impact carrying an unwanted child into the world could have on mothers and children.

“A child that is conceived through incest or rape will not be able to get the love of a mother who is traumatised every time she sees that child. She is unable to give the required love to that child and it has an ongoing effect on both the mother and the child,” said Comrie.

She expressed fear that women could return to the days of using hangers and other unsafe means to abort a foetus, leading to other medical complications and death.

“For us to go back to those days would be devastating,” said Comrie.

Jamaica-born Georgia State Representative, who is also a candidate for Congress in her state, said that the right to choose should be available to every woman.

“Unfortunately, women’s bodies have become a spectacle of political propaganda. A woman’s body is not a piece of property that should be auctioned off to the highest governing body,” she said, arguing that the judicial system does not need activist judges on the Bench who are willing to violate women’s rights.

“We must do everything in our power to defend reproductive rights. ... Women have fought for way too long to have the same equal rights under the law as men. This is sacred,” she said.

editorial@gleanerjm.com