News Abortion

Harris V. McRae

Robin Marty

It is the 31st anniversary of the biggest Supreme Court case no one has ever heard of.

Up until about thirty minutes ago, if you had asked me what Harris vs. McRae was, I’d have to guess it was a new Wimbledon matchup.  But after reading this article, I have no idea how I had never heard of this amazingly important Supreme Court decision.

Via Abortion Funds:

In the case Harris v. McRae, the Court decided by a 5-4 vote that it did not violate women’s constitutional rights for Congress to eliminate federal funding for abortion under Medicaid.

In essence, the Supreme Court said that women’s problems accessing abortion care are a result of their poverty, not a result of the government’s policy to eliminate federal funding of abortion care.

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The Court declared that Congress is free to adopt policies that favor childbirth over abortion. This decision upended the balance struck in Roe v. Wade, which placed the government’s interest in protecting women’s lives and health over and above the government’s interest in protecting the potential life of a fetus, and established the right of every woman to make the decision about whether to have an abortion for herself.

As Justice Marshall wrote in his dissenting opinion, “The Court’s decision today marks a retreat from Roe v. Wade and represents a cruel blow to the most powerless members of our society.”

It is because of arguments like the ones in Harris vs. McRae that some states, like Minnesota, who passed Doe vs. Gomez, declared that Medicaid can be used on abortion services because anything else is denying a woman her constitutional right to an abortion simply because of her economic background.  Unfortunately, thanks to anti-choice fixation on “taxpayer abortions” and the idea that any dollar “indirectly funds abortion,” states like Minnesota are few, and getting fewer every day.

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