With the US Supreme Court on the verge of repealing the right to abortion, there are serious concerns that LGBTQ+ rights, including same-sex marriage, may be next on the chopping block.
Many Americans were shocked on Monday by a leaked draft majority opinion by the court’s conservative justices in favour of repealing the historic Roe v. Wade decision made by the Supreme Court in 1973.
That landmark judgement found that the US Constitution protects a pregnant woman’s right to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction.
The court has confirmed that this week’s leaked document is legitimate, indicating that unless there is a change of opinion among the majority of the justices, the 49-year-old decision is likely to be struck down.
The leaked opinion argues that the Roe v. Wade decision was an error and that the right to privacy and bodily autonomy cannot be used to justify abortion.
Not only have rights activists expressed justifiable outrage at the possibility of an unprecedented revoking of a right, but there are fears that the basis of the Supreme Court’s possible new ruling could also be used to walk back rights like marriage equality for same-sex couples.
Speaking to reporters, President Biden said: “If this decision holds, it’s really quite a radical decision. It basically says all the decisions relating to your private life, who you marry, whether or not you decide to conceive a child or not, whether or not you can have an abortion, a range of other decisions… It’s a fundamental shift in American jurisprudence.”
Jim Obergefell, one of the plaintiffs behind the case that led to the legalisation of same-sex marriage in the US in 2015, told CNN that he was alarmed at the latest development.
“It scares the daylights out of me because many of the rights we enjoy – especially the LGBTQ+ community – are based on unenumerated rights under the 14th Amendment, the right to privacy. And the belief that if the Constitution doesn’t specifically in writing outline that right, i.e. the right to privacy, then all of those rights that have been affirmed for us that are based on the right to privacy under the 14th Amendment are at risk.”
Sarah Warbelow, Legal Director for LGBTQ rights organisation Human Rights Campaign, described the current Supreme Court as “the most extreme and out-of-step in decades.”
She said in a statement: “This leaked ruling is outrageous and it is dangerous for women and all LGBTQ+ people – including queer people, many non-binary people, and transgender men, who need access to reproductive health care. And we know that all of our rights are now on the line.”
Warbelow believes that if the court overturns Roe v. Wade, it would also encourage “state lawmakers pandering to the base to test the limits of court recognised LGBTQ+ equality.”
She added: “What we need now is outrage, anger, and action for those among our community who are about to see the most destructive attack on our civil rights in a generation. We will fight back.”