WHEN Joe Biden was sworn in as president, he vowed to make bringing unity to an America bitterly divided by Trump-era political cleavages his top priority.
But if we fast-forward a little over a year, the US is on the brink of a political civil war, sparked by a bombastic Supreme Court ruling that could see millions of women lose their legal right to an abortion.
The explosive draft ruling, sensationally leaked to the Politico website, suggests America’s top court will strike down the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade ruling that effectively legalized abortion nationwide.
It’s a move that could create deep divisions in the United States by the summer.
I lived in New York for five years. Covering the explosive 2016 Trump election for The Sun, I learned what a hotspot abortion rights are and watched efforts to overthrow Roe versus Wade gain political momentum.
I quickly realized that the abortion argument in America, like gun laws, is a deeply crafted political fault line that just doesn’t exist in British life.
Indeed, the politically divisive “culture wars” that have raged over everything from unisex toilets to mask-wearing in recent years will seem like a silly sideshow compared to the splintering fallout from the Roe v Wade decision.
Within minutes of the leak appearing on the Politico website Monday night, barricades were hastily erected around the Supreme Court building in Washington, readying protesters on both sides of the abortion debate to descend.
The leaked ruling — written by Justice Samuel Alito and dubbed the “first draft” — appears to reflect the majority opinion of the court’s nine justices that the Roe v Wade ruling was “enormously wrong” from the outset.
His reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision had “harmful consequences,” the leak said.
Less a hot potato and more a deadly hand grenade with its pin suddenly ripped out, the impending verdict paves the way for a deadly divided America, with states pitted against other states over a women’s issue.
The court is re-examining Roe v Wade because the state of Mississippi has sought to have the case vacated, a case heard in December.
If the court does what the bill suggests, it would mean that individual states would be allowed to ban abortion if they so wished.
The decision puts the Supreme Court at odds with the overwhelming majority of ordinary Americans.
In a joint statement, Congressional Democrat leaders Senator Chuck Schumer and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi condemned the Supreme Court’s draft ruling as “one of the worst and most damaging decisions in modern history.”
American conservatives have spent half a century crushing Roe against Wade.
But some in the Republican Party now fear her controversial ouster could spark support for Democrats, especially among women and young people, and give Joe Biden a boost at halftime.
Thirteen states, including Texas and Oklahoma, have already passed so-called trigger laws in the pipeline that would automatically ban abortions if Roe is overruled this summer when the official verdict is expected.
A number of other states have legislation pending or likely to be rushed through.
The legality of abortion will now become a hotly contested issue in this year’s midterm elections in November and well beyond. It could dominate US politics for months and years.
And as if the topic itself wasn’t explosive enough, the leaking of details has caused more earthquakes in Washington, and the Supreme Court Marshall has launched an investigation into the source of the leak.
Throughout US history, secrecy has been sacrosanct when the Supreme Court is deliberating.
A draft verdict has never been leaked before, and it will undoubtedly hurt one of America’s most respected institutions.
Roe v Wade gave women in the US absolute abortion rights in the first trimester of pregnancy and limited rights in the second trimester.
The Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice research group, has said 26 states will “certainly or probably” ban abortion if Roe v Wade is repealed, and it’s predicted that more than half of women of childbearing age will not have access might have to have an abortion.
Pregnancy and childbirth have become a politically charged business in America.
I gave birth to my two sons there and learned that high healthcare costs and a lack of paid maternity leave are also contested.
Living in New York, a diehard Democratic “blue state,” a woman’s right to an abortion is an idea I’ve rarely heard challenged.
But in many Republican “red states” in the Midwest and Deep South, anti-life views are passionately held, especially among evangelical Christians and social conservatives.
Outside the Supreme Court this week, rival groups of protesters battled it out, with anti-abortion activists chanting “Roe v Wade must go” and abortion rights supporters chanting “abortion is health care.”
The 1973 ruling focused on a case involving an unmarried pregnant woman, “Jane Roe” — later identified as Norma McCorvey — who, under Texas law, could not perform an abortion where it was illegal, except to to save the mother’s life.
The cloud of dust over Roe v Wade may have exploded sensationally this week, but the Supreme Court drama has been brewing for years.
In fact, Judge Alito himself was nominated for the post by George W. Bush more than 15 years ago.
The Supreme Court has been reshaped by three appointments under former President Donald Trump in recent years and is considered the most conservative in modern US history.
PRO CHOICE CAMPAIGN
Six of the nine current Supreme Court justices were appointed by Republican presidents and the other three by Democrats.
In fact, despite the drama and hate speech surrounding Trump’s campaign, in the back of many voters’ minds was the fact that one of the new president’s first jobs would be to fill a vacancy on the nation’s highest court.
I’ll never forget how a Midwestern housewife told me on the campaign trail at the height of the P***y Grab scandal, “I can’t stand Donald Trump, he’s definitely lowering the tone of the presidency.” . But will I vote for him? Absolutely, because I want to protect my guns and I’m anti-abortion, so I want a conservative judge on the court.”
So what now?
Democratic governors in several states, including California, New Mexico and Michigan, have announced plans to enshrine abortion rights in their constitutions, even if the court overturns Roe v. Wade.
Some pro-choice activists point out that the draft judgment is just that, and the judges have previously changed their views during the drafting process.
President Biden called on Congress to hastily enact Roe v Wade, saying, “It will fall on our nation’s elected officials at every level of government to protect a woman’s right to vote.”
However, legal commentators believe that while Roe v Wade is likely to be overturned, there could be some softening of the sometimes harsh language of the draft judgment, which could avoid an outright ban.
But whatever the outcome, Joe Biden’s “Kumbaya” vision of national unity now seems further away than ever.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/5257395/civil-war-america-roe-wade-abortion-rights/ If you hate culture wars, wait until America repeals the Roe v Wade abortion law