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The Supreme Court is poised to go in radically different directions on abortion and guns

For 49 years, under a ruling of the nation’s highest court and subsequent precedent, Americans have gotten used to the idea that women have the freedom to terminate a pregnancy until the point of fetal viability. They don’t have to travel from state to state to access a right that, while not explicitly named in the Constitution, courts have consistently said springs from its protections for privacy and due process. 

Now, unless a draft Supreme Court majority ruling is dramatically revised or becomes a dissenting opinion, Justice Samuel Alito and his band of not-so-merry conservatives are poised to de-nationalize that right, making reproductive liberty wholly contingent on the state in which a woman happens to live and the disposable income she happens to have at the ready. A New Yorker will be able to get an abortion in the 12th or 20th week. An Oklahoman won’t be able to get one after the sixth week, not even if her pregnancy is the product of a rape.

It should not be lost on Americans that on another life-and-death question, the very same court looks poised to rush in the exact opposite direction, barring states from legislating as they deem necessary.

The Second Amendment says that “a well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Those words have been interpreted variously over the generations (with judges increasingly tuning out those first 12 words), but since the very start of the Republic, different states have had wide latitude to put different curbs on firearm possession. New York’s firearm law, stating that concealed weapon permits are granted only after demonstrated need, has been on the books since 1913. That’s different than Wyoming’s statute, and understandably so. Wyoming’s biggest city has one-fortieth the population of Brooklyn.

If the court in one breath creates a state-by-state abortion rights free-for-all, and in the next cuffs state gun laws by making the right to carry a concealed weapon uniform, it will beclown itself.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Managing Editor Izaskun E. Larrañeta, staff writer Erica Moser and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.


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