Roe v. Wade could affect rights of NJ disabled people, advocates say

The Disability Action Committee, a coalition of New Jersey advocates, put the overturning of Roe v. Wade at the center of a conference call on Friday, joining groups across the country to wonder what the conservative court will do next.

“If they’re ready to knock out Roe v. Wade the first time they get the chance – that’s a big deal – it could get interesting,” said committee chairman Javier Robles, a professor at the Rutgers University which runs the school’s Center for Disability Sports. , Health and wellbeing.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe, finding that “the Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by constitutional provision,” as he wrote. Judge Samuel Alito in his opinion.

Writing for a 6-3 majority, Alito rejected the idea underlying the 1973 Roe decision that the right to abortion is implicit in the 14th Amendment, which states that states cannot deprive Americans of their “freedom” without “due process of law”. .” The conservative court rejected that thought, leaving individual states to decide whether or not to restrict abortion.

It’s a logic that worries many groups that represent marginalized minorities who are only beginning to find their place in society, disability advocates said.

“This decision threatens the true meaning of many values ​​that are proclaimed to be core American values: freedom of choice, self-determination, and independence from government interference in one’s personal affairs,” he said. Maria Town, CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities. , said on the group’s website.

New Jersey committee members said Friday they plan to issue a similar statement in the coming days.

“What will happen when the conservative court gets an ADA case?” Robles asked. He said he fears the ruling signals a legal pendulum swinging away from a focus on human rights, a shift from when the Americans with Disabilities Act was adopted in 1990.

Matawan business owner Sherlock Washington, who is visually impaired, wondered if the court’s conservative majority would be more inclined to pro-business rulings at the expense of individual freedoms.

“When the ADA was put in place, it was to protect those of us seeking employment or gaining access. Now that Roe has been knocked down, are we going to be taken seriously, or will it be too difficult for the employer to put in place special measures for people with disabilities? said Washington. He worries about the expanded use of an ADA clause that says access must be provided unless it causes “undue hardship.”

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Alito, in his ruling, said “nothing in this notice should be construed as casting doubt on precedents that do not relate to abortion.” But LGBTQ activists and other groups have said the due process argument is key to other major rulings such as the ruling that declared a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. They point with concern to a concurring opinion by Judge Clarence Thomas that the rulings on contraception and gay rights were “manifestly wrong” and that the court has a duty to “correct the error”.

Hackensack resident and former president of the Hearing Loss Association of New Jersey, Arlene Romoff, said she has experienced first-hand the impact of the downplaying of individual rights. Romoff, who lost his hearing as an adult and uses cochlear implants, enjoyed going to the movies. But in the early days of the ADA, theaters successfully fought the requirement to caption movies.

“The movie industry didn’t want it and prevailed. In 1991 the industry said, “No, we don’t put that in there. It was a case of industry trumping disability,” Romoff said. “And I never went to the movies.”

Robles said the logic of nullifying Roe v. Wade – that abortion rights were not explicitly enumerated in the Constitution – was a “slippery slope”. He suggested a strategy his group would consider in the future.

“We need to prepare and meet with legislators and identify people who support disability rights and laws,” he said. “It will be important for us to start building some sort of wall so that we have greater state protection via legislation in the event that the Supreme Court does what it did with Roe v. Wade. Then, the state can intervene.

Gene Myers covers disability and mental health for and the USA Today Network. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

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Twitter: @myersgene

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