On Monday evening, Politico leaked a draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito that would strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade, a 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a constitutional right to abortion. While this decision is widely regarded as a direct assault on abortion access, the opinion also represents an attack on the LGBTQ+ community nationwide.
The opinion posted on Monday is from Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a pending Supreme Court case regarding Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, which was heard by the Court last December. Many advocates had hoped that if the Court struck down the ban, it would do so on narrower grounds, without striking down Roe. Yet this opinion would put an end to Roe in its entirety, threatening both abortion access and LGBTQ+ rights.
That is not to say that abortion access is not an LGBTQ+ issue, in and of itself—it is. Members of the LGBTQ+ community, including nonbinary people, transgender men, queer women, and intersex people need access to abortion care.
Additionally, if and when the Supreme Court’s decision goes into effect, these abortion restrictions would disproportionately fall on low-income people who cannot afford to take time off work to travel to a state where abortion is legal. According to the Williams Institute, LGBTQ+ people have a higher poverty rate than their cisgender straight counterparts, which means that these restrictions would also harm the many LGBTQ+ people who are also low-income.
Beyond abortion access for LGBTQ+ people, the draft opinion also explicitly threatens other rights rooted in the right to privacy such as the right to marry, the right to contraception, and even the right of people of the same sex to have sex with each other.
In the draft opinion, Alito states: “The inescapable conclusion is that a right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and traditions.”
He also adds: “Until the latter part of the 20th century, there was no support in American law for a constitutional right to obtain an abortion. Zero. None. No state constitutional provision had recognized such a right.”
Under this logic, it seems that hard-earned rights like marriage equality and the right of queer couples to have sex could also be struck down, given that the justices may argue that these rights were not “rooted in the Nation’s history and traditions.”
Though the opinion is not final until it’s published by the Court, likely at the end of June, its logic is poised to threaten abortion access and the rights of LGBTQ+ people across the country. Congress can and should act to counteract this harmful decision.
Without a doubt, this draft opinion represents a serious threat to our lives as we know it.