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Roe v. Wade Impact: Syracuse University Experts Weigh In
Reporters looking for insight into the leaked opinion showing Supreme Court justices are working on an advanced decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, please see comments from Syracuse University experts. They each offer insight on what this means in the current political climate and how this decision could further impact existing laws that safeguard civil rights and laws protecting healthcare decisions.
Professor of Law Paula Johnson:
“My opinion is that the implications and ramifications of overturning Roe are serious and dangerous to women’s lives. Women’s bodily integrity and autonomy will be upended and their healthcare and reproductive decisions even criminalized if this indeed becomes the Court’s final decision. This will especially affect women who are marginalized not just because of gender, but also race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender identity, and poor economic status,” said Johnson. “As such, the decision further throws the jurisprudence of privacy, liberty, and autonomy into jeopardy as constitutionally protected rights. It would be wrong and shortsighted to think this only involves women’s bodies and lives; it is much more far-ranging than that and has the potential to intrude on the individual lives, families, and relationships of all persons. Not to mention the criminalization of healthcare providers for addressing the medical needs of their patients. These rights should not be subject to the political whims of individual states; women’s access to healthcare and reproductive choice should not depend on where they live.”
“Interestingly, we do not know Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion. He has been a proponent of adhering to precedent; it will be interesting to see if he does so in this instance, where so much is at stake for women’s ability to decide the trajectory of their lives without government interference, judgment, or criminalization,” said Johnson.
Professor of Political Science Shana Gadarian:
Shana Gadarian, professor of political science at Syracuse University and the author of Anxious Politics, is available to discuss how abortion rights are one of the few issues that can break through to voters who don’t normally vote in the mid-terms.
“Many people don’t pay attention to politics and are unlikely to vote in the midterms because the issues seem irrelevant to their lives. One of the few single issues that have the ability to break through the screen of inattention for people is abortion because it is an issue where many people have an opinion. The public broadly is supportive of reproductive rights including the right to access abortion and that’s true even among Republicans and white Evangelicals,” said Gadarian.
“Generally, the people who vote and turnout based on abortion policy are those who support more restrictions on abortion rights. By striking down Roe, this is likely to create a new constituency of pro-choice voters who are activated to turn out and donate in ways that they would not normally in a midterm election,” said Gadarian. “Democratic lawmakers are facing a midterm election where the president has sagging approval ratings and people are feeling somewhat pessimistic about the economy. Putting abortion on the agenda and making a case that Democrats have a plan to protect abortion rights for all women, not just women in Democratic-led states could be a motivator to turn out, work for the party and donate. Just making voters angry about the loss of rights or hopeful that the future will be brighter will not be enough – pro-choice voters need to hear that there are policy plans and choices that the party is going to make to restore rights.”
“On the issue of whether other rights are now under fire, the clear answer is yes. There are already challenges to other healthcare decisions (see the states making gender-affirming care for trans kids) at the state level that essentially removes the rights of individuals to make healthcare decisions in ways consistent with their needs and values and substitutes the judgment of the state. The Supreme Court and other federal courts has already decided that the federal government has only limited rights in being able to protect people from an infectious disease (see the decisions about mask mandates and limitations on vaccine mandates) and that the federal government can’t force states to provide health care for the poor (see the decisions on the Affordable Care Act). It now is deciding that where you live will determine what access women have to basic reproductive care,” said Gadarian.
Professor of Architecture Lori Brown:
Syracuse University architecture professor Lori Brown has a unique perspective due to her work with clinics and studying how the abortion debate has shaped physical access to reproductive healthcare.
She has worked with the Jackson Women’s Health Organization and helped organize a design competition with her architecture firm Architexx, to rethink the clinic’s privacy fence. She is the author of “Contested Spaces: Abortion Clinics, Women’s Shelters and Hospitals: Politicizing the Female Body,” and the article “Private Choices, Public Spaces. Field notes from Mississippi’s last remaining abortion clinic.”
For her book “Contested Space: Abortion Clinics, Women’s Shelters and Hospitals,” Brown conducted in-depth research on abortion clinics in America. She visited abortion clinics and mentioned how most of the buildings were not designed for medical procedures because people were unwilling to sell to abortion providers.
“Architecture is absent in these types of spaces, they can’t afford architects or architectural services, they believe architects won’t work with them, and they are often in existing spaces that have been re-appropriated as a medical facility,” she says in a 2014 interview with Fast Company.
To schedule interviews with any of these experts or to get more information, contact:
Ellen James Mbuqe, MBA
Director of News and Public Relations
Division of Communications
T 315.443.1897 M 412.496.0551