Justice Anthony Kennedy announced Wednesday that he plans to retire from the Court on July 31. Almost immediately, women worried about the fate of Roe v. Wade, with many urging others to get IUDs and stock up on birth control.
Kennedys retirement instigated worry because hes been the Supreme Courts swing vote for over a decade. Hes sided with liberal justices in a series of key decisionsincluding the landmark Whole Womens Health v. Hellerstedt, in which he surprised conservatives by affirming the protections guaranteed by Roe v. Wade.
But now that President Trump will be tasked with appointing a new Supreme Court pick, many of Kennedys swing decisions are within striking distance of conservative forcesand many fear that Roe v. Wade will be the first to go. As a result, women have already taken to Twitter with their plans to protect themselves and othersand one of the most popular options is getting an IUD.
The destruction of Roe v. Wade could take two distinct forms: a total overhaul of the 1973 ruling, or a slow chip at the provisions it has protected for the past 48 years.
The nuclear option is likely years away. In order to fully overturn Roe, a state would have to pass a law that directly violates the established doctrine, and the resulting lawsuit would have to reach the nations highest court. But the slow, rule-by-rule erosion of abortion rights also poses a serious threat. Anti-abortion advocates could bring smaller changes, like 20-week abortion bans, and chip away at Roes provisions until the decision loses its meaning and power.
Moments after Kennedys announcement broke, women took to Twitter to express their outrage and fear.
Former Obama White House Deputy Chief of Staff Alyssa Mastromonaco put it more bluntly:
But other women called for a more specific action, one that could at least begin to shield from the consequences of Kennedys departure: getting an IUD.
One Twitter user, @MF_Greatest, urged women who were entertaining the thought of an IUD to not delay:
Another, @1followernodad, gave additional advice:
This isnt the first time women have sought to protect themselves in the face of legal threats to their right to birth control and abortion. IUD insertionslong-heralded as one of the most effective methods of preventing pregnancyalso spiked in the months surrounding Trumps election, according to a report from Athena Insight. Between October and December of 2016, researchers found that IUD insertions jumped 19 percent as women scrambled to protect themselves from Trumps promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act and the low-cost birth control that came with it.
The risk posed to Roe v. Wade remains unclear, as does Trumps choice for Kennedys replacement. But his motives are not: According to a tweet from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, his shortlist only includes justices who have pledged to overturn it.
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