Why is abortion in America so polarized? How did we get where we are today, and what lies ahead? Leading legal expert and historian Mary Ziegler, JD, weighs in.
By Stacy Weiner, Senior Staff Writer
Sept. 21, 2023
Few U.S. Supreme Court cases have ignited as much passion as the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that established a constitutional right to an abortion and the 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision overturning it.
…Mary Ziegler, JD, a professor of law at the University of California, Davis, and one of the world’s leading experts on reproductive rights, has been watching — and assessing — as the abortion landscape shifts in a post-Dobbs world.
The Face Act penalizes people for blockading and threatening abortion clinics. Anti-abortion activists want it repealed
Sat 16 Sep 2023
The inside of the abortion clinic was chaotic. Anti-abortion protesters lined the walls. A few had sat down on the clinic’s lime green chairs and draped themselves in chains. “Please inspire these parents to keep their babies!” one man shouted, before he started singing about the Virgin Mary. As some of the protesters sang and prayed loudly, the police officers crowded inside the clinic tried to urge them to move. They didn’t want to budge.
It was 22 October 2020, and one anti-abortion advocate was livestreaming a group of activists who were at the Washington DC-area clinic to, in their view, “rescue” people from having abortions. One redheaded young woman turned to the camera.
As US state abortion bans spread, Mexico’s supreme court decision decriminalizing procedure could be lifeline for some
Fri 8 Sep 2023
A ruling from Mexico’s supreme court could turn the country into a popular destination for Americans trying to end their pregnancies as US state abortion bans proliferate.
On Wednesday, in a significant win for Mexican abortion rights supporters, the country’s supreme court ruled that criminalizing abortions is unconstitutional. However, the process of legalizing the procedure in the country is far from over. Although people will now be able to access abortions in federal health facilities in Mexico, the procedure remains illegal across much of the country.
The Christian right is pushing a slate of laws to stop a new, vague offense they have dubbed “abortion trafficking.”
Melissa Gira Grant
September 7, 2023
Could driving someone to get an abortion soon be an act punishable by law? It’s not out of the question, if a newly emboldened group of extremists get their way.
A wave of new anti-abortion ordinances have already been adopted in several Texas counties and are under consideration in many others across the state, according to a Washington Post story published last week. These laws are premised on stopping a new, vague offense that anti-abortion activists have dubbed “abortion trafficking.” The language evokes an unwilling participant—someone being forced by someone else to terminate a pregnancy—but is intended instead to bar people who do want an abortion from accessing care. The idea is fairly new—and entirely the invention of anti-abortion activists and legislators.
Opinion by Mary Ziegler
Tue August 29, 2023
The South Carolina Supreme Court’s recent abortion decision is a reminder of the importance of state constitutional law in the post-Roe era. By upholding a six-week ban virtually identical to one struck down by the same court in January, this ruling means that South Carolina will go from a state that welcomed abortion seekers from across the region to one where the procedure is available for only as little as a week after a person confirms a pregnancy.
But the court’s decision — and the legislative strategy behind the law that the court upheld — is also a perfect reflection of an evolving Republican strategy to push back on abortion: paying lip service to the importance of reproductive liberty with exceptions or rhetorical flourishes while offering no real access at all.
BY MARY ZIEGLER
AUG 24, 2023
In the aftermath of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court’s decision undoing abortion rights, anti-abortion groups have focused more than ever on the federal courts, and with good reason. Federal judges are extraordinarily difficult to impeach and hold lifetime appointments, and that insulates them from popular support for abortion access—and opposition to bans.
In theory, state supreme courts should be different. That, at any rate, was the story emerging from Wisconsin after April, when voters overwhelmingly chose a left-leaning candidate who ran on her support for abortion rights. State court judges could effectively be fired by voters who don’t like their decisions on abortion. All of that makes this week’s decision by the South Carolina Supreme Court even more puzzling. The court upheld a six-week abortion ban virtually identical to one struck down earlier this year by the same court. To make the optics even better, the judges to do it were all cisgender men. So how can we make sense of what happened in South Carolina, and what does it teach us about struggles over state supreme courts in the post-Dobbs era?
The upshot: Don’t panic.
MADISON PAULY, Mother Jones
Aug 16, 2023
Earlier this spring, the Supreme Court hit pause on a controversial ruling in a massive anti-abortion lawsuit with the potential to eliminate nationwide access to the most common method of abortion. The case, brought by anti-abortion organizations and doctors, challenged the FDA’s two-decade-old approval of mifepristone, a pill used in medication abortion.
In April, a far-right federal district court judge in Texas had sided with the anti-abortion doctors, issuing an unprecedented order to suspend mifepristone’s approval. But before his decision could take effect, the Biden administration asked the Supreme Court to step in and pause the order while it went through appeals. The Court agreed.
August 9, 2023
By Sarah Varney
During the five decades that followed Roe v. Wade, lawsuit after lawsuit in states across the country chipped away at abortion rights. And again and again, the people who went to court to defend those rights were physicians who often spoke in clinical and abstract terms.
"The entirety of abortion rights history is a history of doctors appearing in court to represent their own interests and the interests of pregnant people," said Elizabeth Sepper, a law professor at the University of Texas-Austin. But in July, in a Texas courtroom, the case for abortion was made by women themselves who had been denied abortions and sued the state to clarify the exceptions to its ban, which makes it illegal to perform an abortion unless a patient is facing death or "substantial impairment of a major bodily function."
Years before Roe, a doctor's arrest in Milwaukee became a flashpoint for the abortion rights movement
By Sarah Lehr and Rob Mentzer
Wednesday, August 9, 2023
On a Saturday in September 1969, a 23-year-old grad student walked into an office inside the Majestic Building in downtown Milwaukee. She had been there once before, for a consultation with Dr. Sidney Babbitz.
Babbitz was 59 years old and had mostly retired to Florida. But he was known in whisper networks as a doctor who was willing to perform illegal abortions back in Wisconsin.
Testimony about the horrors of abortion bans is more powerful than abstract conversations about life and choice.
By Mary Ziegler
August 3, 2023
In a courtroom in Austin, Texas, last month, five women put the state’s harsh abortion laws on trial.
Officially, their lawsuit aims to clarify the exceptions in the state’s complex scheme of abortion bans and restrictions. Since 2011, Texas has had an abortion law that defines a “medical emergency” to include any “life-threatening physical condition aggravated by, caused by, or arising from a pregnancy that, as certified by a physician, places the woman in danger of death or a serious risk of substantial impairment of a major bodily function.” Somewhat different definitions apply in other Texas laws, including SB8, the law allowing anyone to sue a doctor or someone aiding them for at least $10,000 per abortion. The Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing the women who brought the lawsuit, argues that because Texas’s exceptions are unclear or even contradictory, physicians are unsure when they can provide care and thus are likely to turn away even patients who qualify for a legal abortion because they have a life-threatening condition.