Will Supreme Court ruling on abortion affect LGBTQ rights?

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02/27/2022

With a heavily conservative Supreme Court signaling that they would hobble or overturn landmark abortion decision Roe v. Wade, more questions were raised about other seemingly set in stone decisions, especially those surrounding LGBTQ rights. In the fall, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health. In 2018, Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a clinic and abortion facility in Mississippi, challenged the “Gestational Age Act,” a law that prohibits abortions after the fifteenth week of pregnancy except in cases of medical emergencies or fetal abnormalities. The U.S. district court heard the case and granted a summary judgement, holding that the law was unconstitutional, and stopped the law’s enforcement. The 5th Circuit agreed with the court’s ruling and the appeal was taken to the Supreme Court by the state of Mississippi. Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision from 1973 where the Supreme Court ruled a state law banning abortions was unconstitutional made abortion legal in many circumstances, saying that a woman’s right to privacy extended to her fetus/unborn child. Justice Sonia Sotomayor sounded a warning, concerned that a gutting of abortion laws could also bring challenges to other “set in stone” laws and decisions, especially those covering LGBTQ rights. During the oral arguments heard in December in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health, Justice Amy Coney Barrett asked Solicitor General Scott Stewart of Mississippi, who is defending the state’s restrictive abortion law, if a decision in their favor would affect the cases cited by Sotomayor. Stewart said that cases involving contraception, same-sex marriage and the legality of sodomy wouldn’t be questioned because they involve “clear rules that have engendered strong reliance interests and that have not produced negative consequences or all the many other negative stare decisis considerations we pointed out.”

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