Judge Challenges Supreme Court on Abortion

The Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization last June caused a stir in the legal and political spheres.

The court declared the Constitution does not secure a right to abortion, upending years of established precedent and affecting reproductive freedom across multiple states. The landmark decision sparked widespread discussion and debate.

Federal Judge Casts Doubt on Supreme Court Ruling

Recently, a federal judge in Washington, DC has cast doubt on the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

In a brief order, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, appointed by President Clinton, stated the Supreme Court did not examine the broader issue of whether the Constitution as a whole provides a right to abortion.

Instead, the ruling only addressed the question of whether the Fourteenth Amendment confers such a right.

The possibility of the Thirteenth Amendment prohibiting laws that ban abortion has emerged, following Judge Kollar-Kotelly’s recent order. The Thirteenth Amendment, which forbids involuntary servitude and slavery, might also extend to forbidding laws that restrict access to abortion.

Judge Kollar-Kotelly has requested that parties in a criminal case related to abortion rights present arguments regarding whether the Thirteenth Amendment or any other provision of the Constitution grants such a right.

The likelihood of the Supreme Court recognizing a constitutional right to abortion is slim, due to the strong opposition of its GOP-appointed majority.

This opposition was demonstrated in their decision to overrule Roe v. Wade.

It was reinforced in Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson (2021), where the court permitted states to enforce anti-abortion laws through the use of bounty hunters, effectively exempting them from judicial review.

Thirteenth Amendment and Its Potential Impact on Abortion

In short, the staunch opposition of the Supreme Court’s majority against abortion rights is unlikely to change, even with a persuasive argument from a judge appointed by a Democratic president.

However, the argument that the Thirteenth Amendment protects the right to abortion should not be dismissed easily. It is as valid as much of the legal reasoning produced by the Supreme Court.

As Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe pointed out, a woman who is legally compelled to endure the physical and emotional burden of pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting against her will has every right to believe there is more to the comparison to involuntary servitude than just a figure of speech.

This involves the criminal prosecution of individuals accused of hindering access to a reproductive health clinic in 2020, during a time when the landmark case of Roe v. Wade was still in effect.

These defendants face allegations of breaking a federal statute that criminalizes conspiring to cause harm, oppression, intimidation, or threat to any person exercising or enjoying a right or privilege guaranteed by the Constitution or laws of the United States.

This article appeared in TheDailyBeat and has been published here with permission.