On Friday, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade—the 1973 Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal nationwide.
This means in 13 states, abortion will be banned within the next 30 days. Missouri banned all abortions minutes after the Supreme Court decision was announced. According to Planned Parenthood, more than 36 million people could lose abortion access. It’s a major victory in the 50-year conservative effort to take control of the nation’s highest court and roll back the rights of women and LGBTQ+ people.
But it’s not the end of that effort. Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, one of the five conservative justices who voted to strike down Roe, also made it clear that he wants the court to revisit same-sex relationships, marriage equality, and queer rights.
In his concurrence, Thomas wrote that “in future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell. Because any substantive due process decision is ‘demonstrably erroneous,’ ... we have a duty to ‘correct the error’ established in those precedents.”
Obergefell is the 2015 5-4 decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in that case, and a candidate for the Ohio state House, criticized Thomas on Friday, noting in a statement that he is “a Supreme Court justice appointed by humans, he is not the Supreme Deity.”
“The millions of loving couples who have the right to marriage equality to form their own families do not need Clarence Thomas imposing his individual twisted morality upon them,” Obergefell wrote. “If you want to see an error in judgment, Clarence Thomas, look in the mirror.”
While many are up in arms about marriage equality, the right to wed is just one of many concerns. Over the last few years, the far right has led a successful campaign to introduce hundreds of pieces of anti-trans legislation and mainstream anti-trans sentiment in the GOP. Earlier this year, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott instructed the state’s child protection agency to investigate parents of transgender children for child abuse. And in June, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office issued two proposals to stop trans youth and trans adults on Medicaid from accessing gender-affirming care. In the latest wave of anti-trans legislation, lawmakers across the country are attempting to introduce legislation that stops children from accessing puberty blockers. All the while, trans activists have pleaded for their cis allies to pay attention to these efforts to marginalize and criminalize trans people.
Now, it seems the nightmare scenario those activists warned about is one step closer to coming true: Thomas’ concurrence opens the door to rolling back the rights the Court finally recognized in the last two decades.
The reality is that abortion restrictions and anti-trans healthcare laws don’t make abortions and trans people go away—they just make seeking that care unsafe.
We are watching the most marginalized among us being stripped of their right to bodily autonomy. Without it, those Americans are officially less free and less safe–whether they ever need an abortion or not.
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