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Editorial: If Roe v. Wade is thrown out, what else is in danger?

With the opinion written by Associate Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito that leaked to Politico Monday night showing the high court poised to throw out the 49-year-old Roe v. Wade decision, we wonder what other rights long upheld by the court are now in danger.

If the court does restrict abortion access, protected by the decision as a First Amendment right since 1973 and upheld since then, this would clearly open a wide door for the conservative majority on the court to throw out a host of hard-won civil rights legislation, from basic voting rights to marriage equality to interracial marriage. 

There is no other way to see the impact if the court goes down this road — decades of precedent could be on the chopping block, and anything thought to be ‘settled’ law is anything but settled. 

The Alito decision, if it turns out this way, is a country-shattering, norm-breaking earthquake with far-reaching ramifications. Roe v. Wade has been the law of the land for nearly a half century; millions of American women have lived their entire lives with this as settled law.

It’s nauseating how judges, when interviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee prior to their confirmation to the highest court — Brett Kavanaugh leaps to mind — said outright that Roe v. Wade was settled law. They said this under oath. Since the leaked document is true — the court has confirmed it — we need to accept the fact that even Supreme Court justices don’t speak the truth in political settings.

Consider what Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told CNN: that Kavanaugh “said under oath many times, as well as to me personally many times, that he considers Roe to be ‘precedent upon precedent’ because it had been affirmed in the Casey v. Planned Parenthood case.”

She also said that when she voted to confirm Justice Neil Gorsuch to the high court she was certain he would uphold Roe v. Wade. “I had a very long discussion with Justice Gorsuch in my office and he pointed out to me that he is co-author of a whole book on precedent.”

On Tuesday, when the Politico story rocked the country, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) — the most senior Republican woman in the Senate — could barely speak when reporters asked for her opinion. She said her faith in the Supreme Court had rocked her faith in the institution.

Across the country, some 13 states have passed so-called trigger laws that will automatically ban all abortions — including pregnancies from rape and incest — if the high court throws out Roe v. Wade.

That would mean perhaps half of the 50 states would completely ban all abortions. The nightmare world of illegal abortions would be the certain result. 

America, as with so much of our national politics, is in utter turmoil. If the Alito position becomes the law of the land, our divisions will become far, far worse.