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Be ready. The Supreme Court’s abortion ruling is only the beginning.

·3 min read

The U.S. Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade Friday, eliminating a nearly 50-year precedent that guaranteed a constitutional right to abortion. In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the court’s conservative majority ruled that abortion is not protected by the Constitution and instead should be regulated by the states. It’s a devastating blow to bodily autonomy and reproductive freedom that’s expected to lead to near-total bans on abortion in roughly half the country.

But the most chilling line in the ruling spoke to new steps the court might take on other rights that no longer appear to be safe, either.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in his concurring opinion that the court should now revisit other decisions that, like Roe v. Wade, are rooted in the Fourteenth Amendment. He explicitly referenced Griswold v. Connecticut, Lawrence v. Texas and Obergefell v. Hodges, which confer the right to contraception, same-sex sexual activity and same-sex marriage, respectively. Overruling these decisions, he said, would “correct the error” that was made in establishing such precedent.

The court’s liberal justices, who co-authored a sorrowful dissent, issued a similar warning, writing that the decision not only robs Americans of their reproductive freedom, but also “places in jeopardy other rights, from contraception to same-sex intimacy and marriage.”

Abortion isn’t going away, whether it’s legal or not. It existed before Roe was first decided, and it will continue after it is overruled. In states where abortion is illegal, abortions will still happen. They might be less safe. They might come with the risk of criminal prosecution and imprisonment. But they will still happen, at least for those who can afford it. All this ruling does is strip pregnant people of the ability to legally make decisions about their lives and their bodies. And it puts them in danger.

Abortion is also still legal in North Carolina — for now. Unlike other states, North Carolina doesn’t have a “trigger law” that automatically bans abortion once Roe is overturned. There are still a barriers to access for many people — it’s expensive, clinics are scarce, there’s a lot of red tape — but it will still be possible to legally obtain an abortion in our state.

That could change, however. The Republican-controlled state legislature has acknowledged that it likely won’t be able to pass further restrictions on abortion in the near future due to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s certain veto. But Republicans are hoping they’ll have a supermajority after the November elections — and if they get it, they could severely restrict or outright ban abortion in the state as early as next year. Democrats have introduced legislation that would officially codify abortion rights in state law, but it has gained no traction under GOP leadership.

There is, as the court has signaled, a larger battle ahead. It’s one to preserve an even larger group of rights — fundamental ones like the right to privacy, and the right to live and love how we please. State elections will be more important than ever, as the court has declared states the arbiters of abortion and perhaps so much more. That’s what will be on the ballot this November. That’s what North Carolina voters will decide.

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