The United States Supreme Court’s decision to overturn federal abortion protections could affect more than just reproductive freedom and health.
Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization encourages the high court to reconsider similar cases that could strip LGBTQ people of some constitutional rights. He listed by name cases that protect the rights to contraception and same-sex marriage and relationships.
“These are all part of the same constitutional fabric protecting autonomous decision-making over the most personal of life decisions,” said Chris Hartman, the executive director of the Kentucky Fairness Campaign, a nonprofit organization advocating for civil rights and against discrimination.
He said the right to abortion access is fundamental for the LGBTQ community, in the eyes of the campaign and ally organizations like Planned Parenthood and the ACLU.
“Same-sex marriage is settled law, but so was access to abortion for 50 years under Roe v. Wade,” Hartman said. “We are on a slippery slope at this point, and the reverberations may be felt for generations to come in ways that are unimaginable.”
Hartman said equal access to safe, comprehensive and compassionate health care is crucial, and added the court’s majority decision especially jeopardizes the health and stability of already vulnerable Americans.
“This has long been a war on people living in poverty and a war on marginalized communities,” Hartman said. “This creates a vulnerability profile for someone that makes them have a higher risk of falling into poverty if they’re not currently living in it, or other negative health outcomes and determinants.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center’s president and CEO Margaret Huang issued a statement highlighting the long-term impact of the Dobbs decision on women, and saying it puts other communities at risk as well.
“The constitutional rights in jeopardy include the right to contraception and equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community,” Huang said.
“Today’s decision flies in the face of the global progress to expand human rights protections for all people.”
Even before Dobbs, the LGBTQ community was a target of Kentucky’s Republican-led state legislature. Earlier this year, lawmakers in this state and about a dozen more, including Tennessee and West Virginia, passed laws banning transgender girls and women in sports.
The Kentucky measure, set to become law next month, aims to stop trans girls in middle, high school and college from participating in sports on gender-aligning teams.
Hartman said the only path to progress is through residents exercising their rights to vote in the upcoming elections. However, he added it would take years and an overhaul of Kentucky’s political landscape for that to be plausible.
“I do believe that people are enraged and will bring that sense of outrage to the ballot box in November. But the Dobbs decision of today is not going to be overturned tomorrow,” Hartman said. “The decisions that they make at the ballot box have reverberations in their daily lives for generations and in ways that may be unimaginable.”