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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – An LGBTQ advocate in Johnson City said the overturning of Roe v. Wade could be just the beginning of changes to Supreme Court precedent.
That comes after Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a concurring opinion calling for a re-examination of three landmark cases, including ones that secured the right to same-sex marriage and the use of contraceptives.
In solidly red states like Tennessee, conservative majorities enacted trigger laws banning abortion in the event Roe v. Wade was overturned.
John Baker, president of the Pride Community Center of the Tri-Cities, said Thomas’ concurring opinion raised questions about the possibility of new laws that could challenge those cases.
“They’re taking away our right to privacy. It’s just the first of the dominos, and you know what happens when you get a bunch of dominoes, one right after the other they start falling,” Baker said.
Thomas cited cases ensuring the right to contraceptives (Griswold v. Connecticut), right to same-sex intimacy (Lawrence v. Texas), and right to same-sex marriage (Obergefell v. Hodges) in his opinion.
But Sen. Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol) said he is not hearing any rumblings of challenges to those rulings in the Tennessee General Assembly.
“That’s something that we as legislative members have not had any discussions on right now,” Lundberg said.
State Reps. Tim Hicks and Bud Hulsey, both Republicans, also told News Channel 11 they had not heard of any discussion on pushing laws to challenge those rulings.
Lundberg said early discussions in Nashville have been celebratory as the trigger law is set to kick in.
“Most of us I think are celebrating that we’re going to save lives,” Lundberg said. “That’s pretty important in Tennessee, and that we were proactive enough to take this action years ago if this opportunity ever presented itself, which it did.”
Justice Samuel Alito mentioned in his majority opinion that rulings on same-sex marriage and contraceptives would not be impacted by the Roe ruling.
But Baker had concern conservative states could take those issues to the court. Mississippi had petitioned the court to hear its case for a 15 week abortion law following battles in lower courts in Dobbs v. Jackson Womens Health Organization, which led to the court overturning Roe v. Wade.
“The idea that the government is taking our bodily autonomy and our health care in their hands and not in our hands, that is to me unconscionable,” Baker said.
Some states have considered laws making it possible to sue someone traveling out of state for an abortion, but Lundberg has not seen that in Tennessee.
“I’d be cautious of doing anything because there’s a number of people that go out of state for medical treatment. In this case, I haven’t heard of any discussions,” Lundberg said.
Baker said the uncertainty of what comes next makes it a difficult time for the LGBTQ community and beyond.
“It’s very scary, and our community is scared. And we’re also mad,” Baker said.
Baker said the Pride Community Center of the Tri-Cities is looking at ways to provide contraceptive resources to people.
The Tennessee General Assembly is back in session January of next year.