Confirmation 1

With Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court on Oct. 27, many fear losing access to abortion and birth control and seeing the legality of gay marriage overturned.

Prominent Supreme Court decisions, such as Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion and Obergefell v. Hodge, which legalized gay marriage at a national level, could be re-examined in the near future. 

“With all the recent abortion restrictions we have seen since Trump has been elected into office, this is kind of the tip of the iceberg,” said Jenna Jacofsky, the vice president of Planned Parenthood Generation Action of Kent State. “It is a real threat to Roe v. Wade having (Barrett) on the court and we could very easily lose any access to abortion. And it's already getting harder to get one in the first place.”

If Roe v. Wade is overturned, women will lose access to legal abortions.

“If I were to get pregnant in the next, let’s say, six months, there’s a possibility that I will have to carry out that whole pregnancy. I definitely am not in a place to do that,” said Riya Daneshgari, a sophomore exploratory major. 

Abortion is not the only form of health care under fire. Jacofsky is worried about the future of Planned Parenthood in general.

In 2014 during the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of allowing family or family held businesses to refuse health care that would go against their religious beliefs, such as contraceptives and other family planning services, to their employees.

Christopher Banks

Christopher P. Banks, professor in the political science department at Kent State. 

“I think if a challenge comes to her, it’s going to come in the form of a health care provision that restricts family planning methods,” said Christopher Banks, a professor of political science who specializes in law and politics and Supreme Court jurisprudence. “And I think that’s likely to be on the radar, along with just direct assaults on Roe v. Wade.”

Planned Parenthood is one of the companies that could be most impacted by restrictions. 

“With her nomination and the conservative majority on the courts, I think Planned Parenthood is going to have an even harder time providing services to people,” Jacofsky said. “Planned Parenthood is not just an abortion provider. So, conservatives who try to defund Planned Parenthood, they're also taking away things like normal sexual health care besides abortions.” 

Planned Parenthood’s other sexual health care services include access to birth control, to HIV and STD testing and treatment and to general doctor visits.

Losing access to birth control is also something Daneshgari is worried about. She is thinking about switching over to an intrauterine device, she said, which is a long-term device placed in a woman’s uterus to prevent pregnancy, in case she is no longer able to receive her monthly birth control shot.

While overturning precedents has not been popular in the Supreme Court in the past, more could be likely to happen with the rapid turnover of members on the bench according to Banks.

“When you have new members come on the court, they have a new opportunity to revisit old precedents that they were not a part of in creating, and that's true especially in constitutional cases, meaning they’re interpreting what the constitution means,” Banks said.

However, for a case to be overturned, there would need to be a case that raises the issue, Banks said. 

Recently, Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito voiced concern over the decision made in the Obergefell v. Hodges case, saying it goes against the rights of those whose religious beliefs disagree with gay marriage.

“Obergefell v. Hodges and gay marriage; it’s particularly insulting to see that that’s something kind of on the cutting board,” said Tyler Gardner, the president of the Kent State College Democrats. 

With Thomas and Alito’s views on the topic, and the new additions of Brett Kavanaugh and Barrett, “that to me does not seem like a safe precedent,” Gardner said. 

Conservative judges in lower courts could rule in a certain way on certain issues, which would create a test case, Banks said. A test case is used to set up a precedent.

“One great example of that is going to be abortion,” Banks said. “You’re going to have several challenges to the new laws that are being passed largely in the states with Republican majorities that create more limits on it. And with that, you’re going to have more test cases. When you have more test cases, you have more chances to go before the (Supreme Court) if they decide to review it.”

A political agenda is pushed by either party when it uses test cases, for example, to “challenge particular cases for the reason of getting the law changed if they don’t like it,” Banks said.

While the Supreme Court had a 5-4 conservative majority before this most recent appointment, Barrett’s addition solidifies that majority to 6-3, making conservative decisions more likely.

Barrett replaced Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died earlier this year. Ginsburg was a strong liberal, and advocated for many liberal decisions, mainly ones including women’s and LGBTQ+ rights.

“RBG was such a force on the court. She had a long career of being like a voice of wisdom and an advocate for women, and Amy Coney Barrett was selected because she is known for being pro-life,” Jacofsky said. “I think her replacing RBG is probably the worst: the worst replacement that could happen on this court within the past 70 years.”

Bella Hagey is a diversity reporter. Contact her at ghagey@kent.edu.

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Hi, I’m Lauren Sasala, a senior journalism student from Toledo. I’m also the editor in chief of The Kent Stater and KentWired this semester. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important news about Kent State and the Kent community. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate.

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