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The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

History Professor Contemplates a Post-Roe World 

History Professor Contemplates a Post-Roe World 

(Photo from NJIT)

The overturning of Roe v. Wade last summer has been a subject of great concern for people across America, particularly for associate history professor Alison Lefkovitz. 

Lefkovitz believes that going forward, many rights that minority communities have fought hard for may now be in danger. 

“I do fear [for] the more vulnerable people in society right now,” she said, in response to the Supreme Court’s June 2022 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. “I don’t think the Supreme Court has any of their interests in mind.”  

Norma McCorvey, the woman whose case was featured in Roe v. Wade, challenged the abortion laws in Texas in 1970, saying they were unconstitutional. At the time, she was seeking an abortion in the state, but the procedure was illegal unless the mother’s life was in danger. McCorvey ended up having the baby.  

The case eventually made its way to the United States Supreme Court, which ruled 7-2 in 1973 that during the first trimester of pregnancy, a woman had an absolute right to abortion. This was because her abortion rights were protected by her right to privacy, which is in the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.  

However, after the decision handed down by the Supreme Court in the case Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992, the rules changed; abortion was only legal as long as it occurred before viability — usually considered to be around 23 weeks into pregnancy. This meant abortion was legal as long as the fetus was not able to survive outside the womb. The law also allowed for abortion to be performed after viability if the life of the mother was in danger.  

Even after the Casey decision, the right to abortion would continue to be challenged and restricted. Roe v. Wade was even challenged by McCorvey herself. In 2003, she tried to get her case overturned, claiming that it was hurting women instead of helping them.  

The legal case would be challenged again in 2022, by the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case. It upheld a Mississippi law that banned abortions after 15 weeks, thus overturning Roe v. Wade

Lefkovitz believes that the Dobbs decision opens the door for federal court cases that can potentially hurt women and minorities even further.  

She cites an ongoing case in Texas involving the non-profit organization Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, which sued the United States Food and Drug Administration. The alliance is arguing the morning-after pill is harmful to women, even though there is no new science that can back up this claim, Lefkovitz says. 

According to Lefkovitz, the alliance’s legal arguments can be seen as a “politically sophisticated movement” that obscures its main purpose of further restricting people’s right to abortion. 

Lefkovitz says that the reasoning in the Dobbs case puts birth control, LGBTQ+ rights, and substantive due process at risk. Abortion was once held as a fundamental right because it was implicitly stated under the right to privacy.  

However, the overturning of Roe v. Wade implies that abortion is not a constitutional right since it is never explicitly stated in the Constitution, which leads Lefkovitz to believe that “gay marriage[,] interracial marriage, and birth control are in trouble.” These rights are also not enshrined in the Constitution. 

Despite the growing concerns of an uncertain future, Lefkovitz holds some hope for the future. The Respect for Marriage Act is a law that went into effect on Dec. 13, 2022 and protects gay marriage and interracial marriage. The act requires states and federal government to continue to recognize same-sex marriage and interracial marriage regardless of what the Supreme Court decides. 

 “I think that movements after a decision comes down are the movements of the greatest activism,” she said.  

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Najee Manning, Senior Staff Writer
David Juarez, Staff Writer
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