Failures of Democratic Party Evident In Wake Of Roe v. Wade Decision Leak

On Monday night, POLITICO published a leaked Supreme Court draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito indicating that the majority-conservative court has voted to strike down Roe v. Wade. The implications of this are terrifying. Should this happen, abortion would be immediately outlawed in 23 states and territories, including Ohio, impacting 58 percent of American women (though women are obviously not the only people impacted by this decision). Roe v. Wade is an incredibly important ruling because it serves not only as protection of the right to abortion — and therefore bodily autonomy — but also privacy, as the decision determined that the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives people the right to privacy, which protects their ability to choose to have an abortion. If Roe is struck down, it could open the door for more landmark civil rights cases to be overturned, such as Obergefell v. Hodges, the civil rights case that granted the right to marry to same-sex couples. This is potentially opening Pandora’s box for attacks on the civil rights that people have fought and died for in the last century. 

I’m scared, angered, and saddened, but most of all I’m disappointed. Roe v. Wade has been in place for almost 50 years. Of those 50 years, Democrats have had the majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate for 22. In that time, Democrats have had multiple opportunities to codify Roe v. Wade and further protect pregnant people’s right to abortion. Congress could have passed a law making abortion federally legal so that, even without Roe v. Wade in place, states would be unable to enforce abortion bans. Granted, this would involve abolishing the filibuster in the Senate, which is a near-impossible task, but Democrats in Congress have done nothing to further protect the right to abortion, not even bringing forth bills to vote on when have the power to do so. “Remember, the Supreme Court is not the ones [sic] who will have the final word on Roe v. Wade. It is Congress that gets the final word. We have the capacity to keep Roe v. Wade as the law of the land. And if we act, then we can do that,” Senator Elizabeth Warren said on CNN. 

While I believe that Warren has the right idea, and I’m happy to see a lawmaker actually putting out a call to action, given the Democratic party’s track record over the past few years, I have little faith that Congress will actually do something. The idea that Roe v. Wade would be struck down as soon as Republicans obtained a conservative majority in the Supreme Court is not a new one. It is not at all surprising that a Supreme Court with a conservative majority of six to three has voted to overturn Roe. The time to take action toward codifying Roe v. Wade was, at the very latest, in 2021 when Democrats held the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the White House. One of the few things that has given me hope that something will happen has been seeing videos of Senator Warren talking about the leaked decision with groups of supporters on the steps of the Supreme Court earlier this week, visibly shaking with rage. To see a politician so angry about this issue that they were having difficulty keeping their composure was strangely refreshing, but also served as a much-needed reminder to me that all is not lost at the higher levels of government and decision-making. 

I also believe that it is important to remember that while the Supreme Court and many Republican-elected officials support outlawing abortion, they are an incredibly vocal minority that is unfortunately in power due to decades of gerrymandering and court-packing, as well as Democrat’s refusal to strike back or take aggressive action toward preventing situations like this one. According to a poll conducted by the Washington Post and ABC News in late April, 54 percent of Americans believe that Roe v. Wade should be upheld, compared to 28 percent who said that it should be overturned, and an additional 18 percent having no opinion. This vocal minority should not have the ability to make decisions that impact half of the U.S. population, and measures must be taken to limit their power. Codifying Roe v. Wade into law at a federal level may be nearly impossible due to refusal of moderate Democrats like Joe Manchin to overturn the filibuster, but abortion rights can be protected at the state level through state legislatures by enshrining them in state constitutions, as California state lawmakers have pledged to do. 

In spite of all of this, I’m still scared. This feels like yet another letdown, as the Democrats we have fought hard to elect have failed to follow through on their promises yet again. President Joe Biden promised to make Roe v. Wade the “law of the land” on the campaign trail. All Biden has done thus far in the wake of this decision has been to urge the American public to elect more pro-choice lawmakers. The reality is that Democrats need to step up and start throwing punches. If they do this, then they can actually accomplish what they campaigned for and prevent this country from falling into the hands of the now far-right Republican party. It’s beyond time that they abolish the filibuster and codify Roe. Otherwise, Democrats will be hardpressed to get the votes they desperately need to prevent this country from losing any more progress than we already have.