ST PAUL, Minn. — Legal experts said on Friday that overturning Roe v. Wade has far-reaching implications, including surrounding contraceptives.
Depending on how narrowly a state decides to define when life begins could lead to different forms of birth controls — even fertility treatments — being banned.
It's being called into question because Justice Clarence Thomas issued a separate, concurring opinion that said the court should now reconsider other rulings, including Griswold v. Connecticut from 1965.
"What the Supreme Court said was there was a right to privacy," said Hamline University Political Science Professor David Schultz. "They found it by saying there are several different Amendments of the Constitution that implicitly refer to privacy."
It was used to justify that married and unmarried couples have a right to use birth control.
In 1960, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first oral contraceptive. Two years later, the American Medical Association reported 1.2 women were using it.
"We should all be concerned," said University of Minnesota history professor and author Elaine Tayler May. "Many of us thought those things had been settled for a long time, and I think they’re unsettled now and we’re in a very dangerous political moment."
Tayler May calls the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade a political one that will not only impact reproductive rights, but LGBTQ+ and civil rights, too.
"Think of the right to privacy as a bucket, a bucket we have to ask, what goes in that bucket," explained Schultz. "What the Supreme Court did today was to say that the right to privacy does not include a right to terminate a pregnancy for an abortion."
Schultz says Justice Thomas' concurring opinion challenges the entire concept of privacy. Plus, how state's can now decide to define when life begins will put the use of the pill, including Plan B and intrauterine devices, at risk.
"This opinion, if you think about it, potentially not only takes lots of things out of the bucket of the right to privacy, it may very well destroy the bucket," said Schultz, who says these decisions make it possible to set a precedent to rethink other issues.
While it's not clear where rights around contraception may land yet, the FDA has long said that some options are considered medications to prevent pregnancy, not abort it.
While other contraceptives are used to manage health conditions like endometriosis, acne and migraines.
"I think it could be a very dangerous time for women, I mean, it already is and it could be worse," said Tayler May. "Men should be worrying, everyone should be worrying, every citizen should be worrying what this means."
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