NEW YORK, USA (CMC) – Caribbean American legislators on Friday expressed profound outrage over the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in overturning the almost 50-year-old landmark case Roe v Wade that gives women a constitutional right to an abortion.
Three of the conservative judges, who were appointed by former US President Donald Trump, a Republican, voted on Friday with the majority, 6-3, to overturn the law of the land.
“Today stands among the darkest in our nation’s history,” Congresswoman Yvette D Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC). “To undo Roe v Wade after 50 years of established precedent amounts to nothing less than a war on women’s reproductive rights and freedoms, and we cannot and will not stand for it.
“For the countless people across this nation who will suffer under this ruling, for the many who will lose their lives on account of its cruelty, for the black and brown women, low-income women, and rural communities who have already faced lifetimes of the traumatic impacts of systemic discrimination, we must act,” urged the representative for the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, New York. “The time has long passed to end the filibuster and codify the Women’s Health Protection Act into law.
“Today, more so than ever, it is incumbent upon elected officials at every level of government to ferociously protect a woman’s right to choose,” Clarke continued. “Forced pregnancy is an inhumane and immoral travesty, and one that will become commonplace in America unless we act deliberately and with haste.
“Let me be clear: this decision will not end abortion – not in New York, where the right to choose is eternally entwined in the very fabric of our state, nor in the countless communities living under the oppressive thumb of trigger laws that have readied to outlaw abortion for decades,” she said. “What this ruling will do is strip Americans of their access to safe abortions. It will kill women. And though I am furious, and disgusted, and heartbroken, now is not the time to mourn or wallow. Now is our moment for action – before it is too late.”
While outraged, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants, said the US Supreme Court’s ruling was expected when Trump appointed conservatives Justices Neil M Gorsuch, Brett M Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett to the court.
“When we said, when advocates shouted, that conservatives would attack the core rights afforded to Americans when given the power, when we protested Trump, Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, Barrett, when we spoke about the consequences of the right wing’s agenda, it wasn’t hyperbole,” Williams, a candidate for Governor of New York in Tuesday’s Democratic Primary, told CMC.
“It was a warning, one now realized as the Court strips away a fundamental right to privacy and bodily autonomy, striking at our liberty and at the health and safety of women and pregnant people across the country.
“People will die because of today’s decision,” he warned. “People have and will always seek abortions, and criminalizing them, making services inaccessible, only makes them more dangerous; pregnant people with no other options will be forced to endure torture or put their lives at risk.
“On the orders of a radical, far-right agenda, carried out by conservative justices, millions of Americans will lose their rights to body autonomy, to dignity, and to privacy – with harm falling disproportionately on low-income communities and people of more color,” Williams added. “With the court not only abandoning but endangering people, we need to stand up – for our rights and for our neighbours.
“Today we mourn, we comfort, and then we move to fight, to action – we cannot wait, because the people who brought this harm today are not waiting to bring more,” he continued. “The conservative movement and the judges it installed have done exactly what they promised to do, and they’re promising to do more. This decision openly invites, encourages further attacks on women, on the LGBTQIA community, on communities of more color, on the fundamental rights that we have fought for and won across decades and even centuries.
“We can be stricken today – horrified, furious, distraught – but we cannot be still, and we cannot be silent,” Williams said. “We can’t lose our will to fight, strengthened by a movement of millions and looking to the women who have long led that movement and this work, as we fight our way forward and resist being dragged back, devastated but never defeated.”
Brooklyn Democratic Party Chair Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, said that overturning Roe v Wade is “a devastating blow to the rights of women to govern their own bodies and their reproductive health, and reverses 50 years of settled law.
“Today’s decision from the Supreme Court can be summed up with one sentence – Republicans have made reproductive freedom a crime,” Bichotte Hermelyn continued.
New York’s Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Jr, who traces his roots to Jamaica, described the court’s ruling as “shameful and deadly,” stating that the US Supreme Court “callously” overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade decision, officially eliminating the Constitutional right to abortion services federally guaranteed to Americans since 1973.
“From African Americans in Dred Scott v Sandford and Plessy v Ferguson to Asian Americans in Korematsu v United States, the Supreme Court has a disgusting history of declaring that entire demographics do not have the right to determine their own destinies,” he said. “Today, the Court has written another dystopian chapter in our nation’s history by ripping away the fundamental right to body autonomy for all Americans with the ability to become pregnant — an evil and hateful decision that will forever be viewed through the prisms of shame and scorn.
In writing for the majority, Justice Samuel A Alito, Jr, said “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” adding that the reasoning was “exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences.”
Although Chief Justice John G Roberts, Jr voted with the majority, he said he would have adopted “a more measured course,” stopping short of overturning Roe outright.
Clarence Thomas, a conservative black justice, joined Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett in the majority opinion.
But the three liberal justices of the court – Stephen G Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan – were furious in their dissent.
“A new and bare majority of this court — acting at practically the first moment possible — overrules Roe and Casey,” they wrote, stating that the majority had issued “a decision greenlighting even total abortion bans.
“With sorrow — for this court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection — we dissent,” they added.
President Joe Biden said from the White House on Friday that the abortion issue will be on the ballot in November’s mid-term elections.
He described the overturning of Roe v Wade as “the realisation of extreme ideology and a tragic error by the Supreme Court.”
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