On Thursday, the Supreme Court of the United States of America delivered a stunning blow to President Obama’s signature legislation: the Affordable Care Act and Roe v Wade. While this ruling was an affirmative victory for millions who benefitted from ACA coverage, it also raises questions about how long federal courts will tolerate political disputes between states and Washington over federal laws.
The Affordable Care Act
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) marked a landmark in how healthcare is organized and delivered. It created public programs like Medicaid and required individuals to purchase insurance coverage.
In 2012, the Supreme Court upheld this law and declared it legal under Congress’ power to tax.
In 2017, Congress repealed the mandate by reducing its penalty to zero. As a result, several states led by Texas filed suit against the federal government.
Thursday, a majority of the Supreme Court ruled that plaintiffs lacked “standing” to challenge the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA), and thus their lawsuit was dismissed. Standing is an essential element in any lawsuit as it requires a plaintiff to demonstrate that their injury can be traced back to the disputed law and rectified through legal recourse.
Roe v Wade
Jane Roe, better known by her stage name “Norma McCorvey,” brought this case against abortion laws in Texas when she was five months pregnant and wanted a termination. Unfortunately, at that time there were restrictions on abortion except in rare circumstances.
In 1970, McCorvey filed a lawsuit against Dallas County district attorney Henry Wade for violating her right to privacy under the United States Constitution. The suit claimed that Wade’s laws violated her rights as set out in the United States Constitution.
After multiple trials, the case reached the Supreme Court. In 1973, they ruled that abortion was legal in most cases.
Even after Roe, some people still believe it to be unconstitutional to have an abortion. Many states have passed laws which go against Roe.
A potential backlash against reproductive rights following Roe’s reversal could be even greater, leading to fears that future conservative Supreme Court decisions will further restrict these rights already recognized in Roe.
Dobbs v Jackson
In November 2021, the Supreme Court heard three cases pertaining to abortion during its 2021 term. Two of these disputes involved Texas’ abortion law and were heard back-to-back.
The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v Jackson will have a profound impact on access to safe and legal abortion for millions of women, particularly those with low incomes and racial or ethnic minorities. It has the potential to significantly restrict these rights for millions across America.
This ruling could potentially impact other unenumerated rights (those not specifically stated in the Constitution but widely recognized as fundamental). These include marriage equality, same-sex intimacy and contraception access.
The majority opinion in the Dobbs case, written by Justice Samuel Alito, purports to limit its holding only to abortion rights but ultimately opens the door for other types of restrictions on access and use of abortion medication, traveling for an abortion, and prosecuting pregnant women seeking such an abortion. Furthermore, this ruling could potentially permit a nationwide exceptionless ban on abortion from conception onward.
Healthcare is rapidly evolving. Advancements in technology enable the creation of new medicines, vaccines and sophisticated ways to screen, diagnose and treat patients more accurately; at the same time, patients are becoming increasingly engaged and involved in their care.
Therefore, healthcare is transitioning away from centralized power and towards a more person-centered approach. To achieve this shift, hospitals and health systems must reimagine their traditional modes of operation and embrace technology that can help them provide the best patient experiences.
Republicans may contend that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) raises costs and decreases quality of care, it remains a popular policy among Americans – over 54% favored it according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll. Furthermore, millions more individuals can gain coverage through subsidies, tax breaks and credits which make ACA-compliant health insurance more accessible for many individuals.