A federal judge in Washington, DC, has suggested that there may be a constitutional right to abortion under the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution – an area she said went unexplored by the US Supreme Court in its decision last year overturning Roe v. Wade.
In a pending criminal case against several anti-abortion activists, US District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly (above) said the Supreme Court’s ruling concluded only that the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution included no right to abortion but stopped short of definitively ruling out other aspects of the Constitution that might apply.
The 13th Amendment says: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
This amendment, passed in 1865 at the end of the Civil War, has always been understood mainly to end slavery in the US. But the meaning of “involuntary servitude” can cover much more. Forcing a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term against her will and take lifelong responsibility for the child can also be considered involuntary servitude.
SOURCE: Politico, by Kyle Cheney, Josh Gerstein, 6 February 2023 ; Marge Berer. Roe v. Wade: A proposal for action, 6 December 2022 ; PHOTO: National Law Journal, 2019