Lawyer Monthly - August 2022

34 WWW.LAWYER-MONTHLY.COM | AUG 2022 The July 2022 Court Decision Rejecting a Federal Right Choose to Terminate a Pregnancy The Supreme Court of the United States decided on 24 June, 2022, that women do not have a right under the federal Constitution to choose to terminate a pregnancy by abortion. The case, Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, involved a legal challenge to a law enacted by the state of Mississippi, the “Gestational Age Act”, prohibiting the termination of a pregnancy under any situation after the 15th week of pregnancy except in a medical emergency or a severe fetal abnormality. A health clinic in Jackson, Mississippi and a physician associated with it had filed a case challenging the constitutionality of that state law, enacted in 2018 by the Mississippi state legislature, on grounds that it violates fundamental human rights established in the federal Constitution. A 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court Justices held that the federal Constitution contains no right to an abortion and no general right of privacy, reversing two prior Supreme Court decisions from the past 50 years, Roe v Wade (1973) and Casey v Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania (1992), and upholding the law restricting the right to choose to terminate pregnancy after 15 weeks except under the circumstances noted. The Broad Implications of the Dodd Decision TheDodd decision has broader implications than the Mississippi law at issue. In overturning the cases of Roe v Wade and Casey, the Supreme Court expressly rejected its own precedent recognising a constitutional right to privacy, the basis for the federal right to choose to terminate a pregnancy. Roe and Casey and their progeny had reinforced an implicit right to privacy from the language found in several amendments to the federal Constitution, namely the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process basis for civil liberties. Although American culture has embraced the sense of a fundamental right to privacy, the Court in Dodd tossed out the legal grounding for individual rights in the context of access to an abortion. In contrast to other constitutions of today, our federal one included no express right to individual privacy. It appears unlikely at The SCOTUS’s June 2022 decision to reverse the landmark Roe v Wade ruling, and with it the assumed Constitutional right to an abortion held by women in the United States, sent shockwaves through the US and the wider world. Rebecca Torrey, founder of The Torrey Firm, examines the shocking decision, reactions within the country and what knock-on effects it may have on other legal issues. Roe vWade: The Legal Perspective Rebecca Torrey Founding Partner The Torey Firm 1626 Montana Avenue, Suite 647, Santa Monica, California 90403 Tel: +1 310-310-2992 Fax: +1 424-414-1712 E: ROE V WADE: THE LEGAL PERSPECTIVE Rebecca Torrey is an across-the-board employment lawyer with significant trial experience representing management in bet-the-company cases involving wage and hour and fair credit class actions, trade secret misappropriation, wrongful termination, discrimination and fair pay claims. She provides advice to companies aiming to align their personnel practices with company culture, values and priorities and minimise legal risk. The Torrey Firm represents employers in litigation and advises management on a broad range of employment matters. The firm assists businesses in looking ahead strategically and collaboratively to improve human resource practices and reduce unnecessary risk.

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