Roe V. Wade On The Verge Of Collapse

by Elpidio R. Estioko

The 50-year-old settled law on abortion is in danger to be reversed! This happened when a leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court surfaced to public knowledge that Roe v. Wade will be ruled out.

Who leaked it? We don’t even know. Why was it leaked? Again, we don’t know.

But what we know is that it created a ripple effect of varied opinions from conservatives and the progressives. It created various opinions from the Republicans and the Democrats.

The draft opinion of Justice Samuel Alito’s striking down Roe v. Wade and the constitutional right to abortion appears to be imminent and concerning.

There are six conservatives in the high court right now, and it is expected that Chief Justice John Roberts usually a swing voter – would cast a dissenting vote that would end in a slim majority 5-4 vote. However, he could introduce an amendment that would water down the ruling and lessen the impact of the decision.

Or, he might be able to convince another justice to go along with his amendment and come up with a 5-4 decision retaining the abortion law. But will Justice Roberts do it and succeed in reversing the apparent 5-4 decision in favor of the conservatives?

Roe v. Wade struck down many U.S. federal and state abortion laws and was tagged as a landmark decision when it was passed in 1973. The Court ruled that “the Constitution of the United States protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction.”

Columnist Perry Diaz argued that in the Alito’s 98-page leaked argument, he penned that Roe v. Wade should be overruled because the Constitution “makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional amendment, including the one on which defenders of Roe … now chiefly rely – the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

Diaz also said, which I agree with: “Regardless of which side, the word “abortion” immediately generated controversies. Majority of American women are very protective of their reproductive rights while a small minority driven by their religious beliefs are against abortion and they are as well pretty vocal about it.”

In an attempt to pre-empt Alito’s anticipated opinion, Senate Democratic leaders introduced a bill – Women’s Health Protection Act – that would enshrine abortion rights in federal law. However, the bill failed in a 49-51 vote with all 50 Republican senators voting with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin opposing.

Well, even if all the Democrats had voted for the bill, it would still fail to pass because it didn’t have enough support to overcome the 60-vote filibuster threshold.

Manchin, an abortion opponent who represents a conservative state, said he voted against the bill because it went further than just codifying Roe v. Wade into federal law.

He said the proposal “expands abortion.” He said he had been “pro-life all my life” but did believe in some exceptions to abortion bans. “And with that, that’s not where we are today,” he said. “We should not be dividing this country further.

On the Republican side, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who said they support abortion rights and have offered a more narrowly tailored piece of legislation to codify Roe, also voted against the bill.

There are 13 states with so-called trigger laws, poised to go into effect if the Supreme Court strikes down Roe v. Wade. Some states are even considering legislation that would limit the kinds of birth control residents can acquire.

In Louisiana, legislation was introduced that would classify abortion as a homicide and define “personhood” as beginning from the moment of fertilization. So, “anything that would prevent a fertilized egg from turning into a pregnancy and being born into a baby could be considered a homicide and abortion providers would be prosecuted as criminals.”

That’s the situation in the Supreme Court. If, however, Chief Justice John Roberts can come up with an anti-abortion ruling that can get the support of one more justice, it would give them a slim 5-4 majority decision retaining the settled law.

And, in the Senate, there’s no way they can pass a law that would turn the Roe v. Wade because of the filibuster where they needed 60 votes. As of now, even all the Democrats will vote in favor of the bill and assuming Sens. Collins and Murkowski will side with them, still they won’t be able to muster 60 votes because they will only have 52 votes.

I think the reason why the Democrats proceeded just the same in passing the bill was because they wanted to know on record who supported the bill for future reference. They knew all the way it won’t pass because of the filibuster’s issue.

So, the collapse was all the way anticipated!

ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and a multi-awarded journalist here in the US. For feedbacks, comments… please email the author at

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