Mary Ziegler and Robert L. Tsai
Sat, June 12, 2021
The Supreme Court captured its biggest headlines last month not for a decision, but for a case it agreed to review next year: Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The case turns on a 2018 Mississippi law banning abortion at 15 weeks, but its impact will likely reach well beyond one state. To uphold Mississippi’s law—which the Court’s conservative majority is expected to do—the Court will have to undo all or part of Roe v. Wade.
Such a sweeping decision might seem like an opportunistic swipe at abortion rights, a conservative court suddenly reversing 50 years of precedent with a single move. But if the Court does rule that way, the story behind it will be far more complex and important to understand. The attack on Roe has been decades in the making—and its successes owe not just to the strength of the conservative anti-abortion movement, but to the progressive playbook that achieved breakthroughs on civil rights, gay marriage and even abortion.