Law professor, advocates speak about 'right to privacy' implications if Roe v. Wade is overturned

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Posted at 6:42 PM, Jun 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-07 18:42:34-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The U.S. Supreme Court's leaked draft opinion regarding the overturning of Roe v. Wade has sparked protest both for and against abortion rights.

A University of Louisville law professor, Sam Marcosson, says the implications go beyond abortion. That would mean other rights that fall under the umbrella of "the right to privacy" that the Supreme Court has applied to other cases.

"There are many other rights that have used the same approach that the court used in roe to develop the right to privacy that would also then be vulnerable," said Marcosson.

Marcosson explained a few of those additional rights rooted in the right to privacy include things like:

  • The right to get a contraceptive 
  • Some parental rights 
  • The right to same-sex marriage 
  • Other rights that aren't spelled out in the U.S. Constitution. 

He says if Roe were overturned anyone could challenge these rights.

"How each of them would come out would depend on how far the court would be willing to take it,” says Marcosson.

Members of the Kentucky Fairness Campaign are also alarmed. Executive Director Chris Hartman says the case that legalized same-sex marriage originated in part in Kentucky. Hartman says in addition to worries about the right to same-sex marriage if the court overturns Roe v. Wade, he's concerned it could lead to discrimination.

"If that goes away, then you could be fired from your job if you work in Shelbyville, Kentucky. Or kicked out of your apartment if you live in Pikeville,” says Hartman.

That decision could affect other groups.

Hartman goes on to say, "I definitely worry that for the next many years, we are going to see a string of civil rights all across the board, that affect women, that affect people of color, Black Americans, immigrants, folks who are disabled, LGBTQ+ people, folks of different religions, and who are from different countries are going to have many civil rights at risk."

Lexington city leaders say over the years, several ordinances have been passed to make the city inclusive for everyone -- including the fairness ordinance passed in 1999.

Council member Liz Sheehan, said, "We were one of the first places to do that in Kentucky, much less across the nation - and I felt like that was a signal to our community about how important that was to us."

Marcosson shared that historically, U.S. Supreme Court Justices have been reluctant to overturn precedents because of what it would mean for established rights.

"That's why we have the documents Stare Decisis. Stick to the law, because there are settled expectations that people have relied on in forming their relationships and in ordering their lives," Marcosson said.

For now, it appears many in Kentucky will be watching and waiting for the decision from Washington.