The women’s liberation movement fought for abortion rights because criminalizing abortion is a moral horror that produces deadly consequences. Samuel Alito’s leaked decision overturning Roe v. Wade imposes illegitimate patriarchal conceptions of rights.

By Nathan J. Robinson, Current Affairs

According to a leaked majority opinion written by Republican justice Samuel Alito, the Supreme Court “has voted to strike down” 1973’s Roe v. Wade, eliminating women’s constitutional right to an abortion and permitting states to criminalize the medical procedure. The opinion is not final, but it has been confirmed to be authentic, meaning that Roe is almost certain to be gone, and abortion will soon be illegal in many parts of the country.

samuel alito

Some of the coverage of the decision has focused on the leak itself. SCOTUSblog called it “the gravest, most unforgivable sin.” Conservatives are up in arms. The Federalist went with the headline “The SCOTUS Abortion Decision Leak Is What Actual Treasonous Insurrection Looks Like.” Right-wing writer Matt Walsh called it “an attempt to completely upend and delegitimize the rule of law, incite violence and chaos, and potentially plunge the nation into civil war.” Cool kid’s philosopher Ben Shapiro called for the leaker to be “prosecut[ed] to the full extent of the law” because “there is little question that this leak is designed to create threat to the life and limb of any justice who signs onto the majority opinion.”

The outrage over the leak is a little odd; if conservatives think the decision is reasonable and good, and if it, or something like it, will soon be the law of the land anyway, they should be pleased. If the news had come out a month before Brown v. Board of Education that the Court intended to strike down segregation in public schools, it’s hard to think anyone would have called the disclosure an act of “treason.” Instead, we must suspect that conservatives would rather discuss the leak than a decision that will be unpopular (fewer than 1 in 3 Americans want Roe overturned) and that makes the Supreme Court look like a nakedly “political” institution imposing the Republican agenda on the country.

But we should keep our focus on what matters: the overturning of Roe is an authoritarian elimination of women’s rights. It is illegitimate and will have terrible human consequences. The Supreme Court justifies its decisions by saying that they are compelled by logic and reason, and if we are to object to the Court’s decision, it is worth not just showing that the right to an abortion is an important social good (something easily proven) but also demonstrating what’s wrong with the explanation Alito gives for striking this constitutional right from the books.

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