On Friday, June 24, 2022, the United States Supreme Court issued Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, resulting in the overturning of the landmark decision Roe v. Wade. In doing so, the Court has set off a great debate that, in part, should cause us to challenge how this nation supports, or more accurately utterly fails to support, its families and children. It should also alarm individuals who care about protected rights, the testing of limits of those rights, and the taking away of rights, which this decision has done.
Far too often, Americans who have been marginalized depend on the Supreme Court to ensure that their rights are protected. We never have witnessed rights being given by the Supreme Court and then stripped away—until now. This decision sets a dangerous precedent, not just for women’s health, but for all Americans who were granted, by this Court, the same rights, regardless of the state they reside in. Justice Clarence Thomas has made it clear that among those rights now in jeopardy is marriage equality, which, if overturned, could have a destabilizing impact on families led by and children parented by couples of the same sex.
Members of the Supreme Court, the political leaders that hold with this decision, organizations and institutions that have fought for it, and like-minded voters have suggested that various supports and services, including the use of adoption laws, baby abandonment laws, and children’s services are readily available solutions to the challenges that this Court decision has created. Unfortunately, this is not true. What is missing is a comprehensive response to the trauma, economic and legal issues for parents and their children related to adoption and baby abandonment, and the lack of services and supports such as child care and family support.
To truly solve these problems, we need to address the impact of broader structural issues like racism and poverty. We also must address the persistent lack of adequate sexual health education, lack of adequate mental health services, lack of adequate response to various drug epidemics, and the country’s inability to place families first.
The United States is far behind other countries that have paid leave, universal child care allowances, and universal child care to support families.
None of these issues and needs have received the attention, advocacy, or urgency that this Court decision has garnered over this last half of a century. We must decide what kind of a country we want to be in the remainder of this 21st century: one that supports its families and cares for its children or one that believes our responsibility to our children ends at conception.
By Christine James-Brown, CWLA President & CEO