With the Supreme Court poised to reverse the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion in the United States, Oak Park Village President Vicki Scaman has joined a large group of female mayors in denouncing the nation’s highest court for potentially restricting personal freedoms and bodily autonomy.
In an open letter signed by Scaman and 72 other female mayors, the Supreme Court was condemned based on a draft of a possible majority opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, which made the choice to seek an abortion a constitutional right, and the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision that upheld that right.
“As experts on our communities, we state unequivocally that access to abortion care is essential health care and a fundamental right necessary to ensure freedom, autonomy, and equity for everyone who can get pregnant,” the letter reads.
Published May 4 on the Women Mayors Network website, the letter states the initial draft of a majority opinion will unravel further constitutional protections of reproductive freedom, voting rights, civil rights, and LGBTQ+ rights. It also calls out the Supreme Court for being “about to betray our country’s commitment to personal freedom” and “moving the nation back 50 years.”
Along with Scaman, the letter includes the names of mayors of major nearby cities such as Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Mayor Tishaura Jones of St. Louis. The letter’s signatories are not all from the Midwest. Female mayors from coast to coast added their names to the letter to ensure abortion rights are maintained.
In an interview with Wednesday Journal, Scaman called her decision to sign the letter a “leadership necessity” and the Supreme Court’s actions an “attack on women’s rights, LGBT[Q+] rights, civil rights and voting rights.”
“It’s definitely just not acceptable in my mind to sit by and not sign this letter,” she said.
The Supreme Court’s initial majority opinion is a draft decision regarding the court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the subject of which is whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional. If a fetus is previable, it is not yet sufficiently developed to survive outside the uterus.
The initial majority opinion was first obtained and published by Politico in an unprecedented leak. Penned by Justice Samuel Alito, a conservative judge appointed by President George W. Bush, the opinion states that “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start.”
“Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences,” Alito wrote. “And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.”
As a draft of a majority opinion, Supreme Court justices could change their minds about overturning Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood. The wording of the document might also change. However, if the decision stands, the right to undergo an abortion would become a state-by-state decision and could lead to many imposing bans on the procedure.
“It is absolutely just an embarrassment that this might happen,” said Scaman.