The Supreme Court ruled on Friday to strike down federal protection of the human right to control one’s body and get an abortion. The alacrity with which the Court’s conservative supermajority, in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, tossed aside nearly 50 years of precedent (and their own pledges to the U.S. Senate), illustrates the threat these “numerical minority justices” pose to the foundations of climate and environmental law, as well as numerous other popular policies and Constitutional rights.
“There was no need to overturn Roe to rule on the constitutionality of the Mississippi statute. … Yet the five-justice majority did so.” Robert Percival, director of the UMD environmental law program, told E&E News on Friday. “When we get the West Virginia decision next week, we may learn whether the court will take a similarly radical approach to weaken our nation’s most treasured environmental laws.” Vermont Law School professor Pat Parenteau concurred, telling E&E News, “No environmental precedent is safe.”
Abortion rights and climate fights inextricable
Climate change and abortion rights — and the interests of polluting industries and those who seek to force birth and criminalize miscarriage — and are closely intertwined. Pollution caused by the combustion of fossil fuels and the unraveling of abortion rights both impose disproportionate harm on communities of color, and low income communities (and fossil fuel pollution is especially harmful to fetuses, infants, and children). The industrial and political alliances seeking to block climate action and deny bodily autonomy to pregnant people are also closely aligned, if not one in the same, while the climate and reproductive rights communities both work towards a world with more justice– and perhaps, four more Justices. (Climate action vulnerability: E&E News, The Hill, Winston-Salem Journal, Wall Street Journal $; Fossil fuel pollution harm: HuffPost; Other rights: NPR, Mother Jones; Justices’ duplicity before Senate: NPR, Daily Beast, Washington Post $)