Reports that the U.S. Supreme Court may be poised to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade case that guaranteed abortion rights protections don’t surprise a University of Guelph political scientist. 

Dr. Candace Johnson says the move “has been many years in the making, through court decisions, policy developments, and strategic court appointments.” 

Dr. Candace Johnson
Dr. Candace Johnson

Johnson is a professor in the Department of Political Science at the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences. She researches global reproductive rights issues, maternal health, women and gender and politics, human rights and justice. 

Johnson said the composition of the U.S. Supreme Court is finally favourable to revisiting Roe v. Wade, with three Supreme Court Justices appointed by president Donald Trump: Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. 

A case concerning abortion restrictions in Mississippi that landed in the court last December also challenged Roe v. Wade and “the leaked Supreme Court decision is perhaps the final outcome of that case,” she added. 

The language in the leaked draft decision focuses heavily on fetal protections that can be interpreted from the country’s common law tradition. This makes it a reversal of the decisions made with the Roe v. Wade case, and an attempt at making “the argument that abortion is not ‘deeply rooted’ in the country’s ‘history and traditions’ and is inconsistent with the commitments to ‘ordered liberty,’” Johnson said. 

The draft mentions improved societal attitudes that will protect “unmarried women,” and “modern developments,” such as workplace anti-discrimination laws and more, but those developments miss the point, Johnson said. 

“Abortion was not a procedure available… for shame-filled, mistake-ridden ‘unmarried women,’” she said. “Abortion is a reproductive right that is for all women, all reproductive subjects.” 

Johnson recently spoke to CTV Winnipeg about the leaked draft decision and the consequences that may follow in both Canada and the United States.  

She is available for interviews.  

Dr. Candace Johnson