The landmark decision never gave women the rights that people wanted to believe it did.
By Mary Ziegler
JANUARY 21, 2023
Tomorrow will mark 50 years since Roe v. Wade was decided, but the landmark ruling did not make it to its semicentennial, having been overturned by Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization last summer. Many people viewed this as the end of abortion rights in America. But that’s not what it was. Both practically and theoretically, Roe was never the guarantor of those rights that people believed it to be.
The “Roe” that has occupied the center of the abortion debate for decades bears only a passing resemblance to anything the Supreme Court said in 1973. Roe has become much more than a legal text; it’s a cultural symbol created not only by judges but by voters, politicians, and grassroots movements. And the history of America’s fixation on Roe is a story not just about the power of the Supreme Court, but about how the Court alone does not—and should not—dictate what the Constitution says.
Over the years, anti-abortion activists became certain that campaign finance laws were the enemy.
BY MARY ZIEGLER
JUNE 23, 2022
The American anti-abortion movement contributed far more to the rise of Donald Trump and the transformation of the GOP than we often think. Scholars have traced how an ascendant form of Christian nationalism—the belief that the United States was and always should be a Christian nation—was needed for Donald Trump to edge out Hillary Clinton in 2016. But the inﬂuence of the anti-abortion movement went much further, and it had everything to do with money in U.S. politics.
Political scientists and historians of the religious right have told part of the story of the fascinating partnership between abortion foes and Republican leaders. Their studies often suggest that while pro-lifers became dependent on the GOP, the Republican Party did not fundamentally change its priorities. Some assert that the GOP co-opted the religious right, gaining its votes while offering little but speeches in return.
Roe v. Wade was never expected to be the case that made history.
By Emily Bazelon
May 20, 2022
For three days in January 1970, they filled the 13th floor of the federal courthouse in Manhattan, women of all ages crowded into a conference room, sitting on the floor, spilling into the hallway. Some brought friends or husbands. One nursed a baby. Another was a painter who also taught elementary school. A third had gone to Catholic school. They’d come to give testimony in the case of Abramowicz v. Lefkowitz, the first in the country to challenge a state’s strict abortion law on behalf of women.
The witnesses in the courthouse were among 314 people, primarily women, brought together by a small team of lawyers, led by Florynce Kennedy and Nancy Stearns, to set up a legal argument no one had made before: that a woman’s right to an abortion was rooted in the Constitution’s promises of liberty and equal protection. New York permitted abortion only to save a woman’s life. Kennedy and Stearns wanted the court to understand how risking an illegal procedure or carrying a forced pregnancy could constrict women’s lives in ways that men did not experience.
Ruth Marcus, Washington Post
Dec 7, 2021
The vision of getting the courts out of the abortion-deciding business sounds so reasonable, so alluring.
It is also wrong, misleading and dangerous.
Mississippi Solicitor General Scott Stewart laid out the argument during the oral argument last week — urging the justices not only to uphold his state’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks but to overrule its decisions finding that the Constitution protects a woman’s right to choose.
A short history of the Roe decision’s emergence as a signature cause for the right
Sun 5 Dec 2021
Public opinion on abortion in the US has changed little since 1973, when the supreme court in effect legalized the procedure nationally in its ruling on the case Roe v Wade. According to Gallup, which has the longest-running poll on the issue, about four in five Americans believe abortion should be legal, at least in some circumstances.
Yet the politics of abortion have opened deep divisions in the last five decades, which have only grown more profound in recent years of polarization. In 2021, state legislators have passed dozens of restrictions to abortion access, making it the most hostile year to abortion rights on record.
By Lawrence Hurley and Andrew Chung
Dec 1, 2021
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices on Wednesday signaled a willingness to dramatically curtail abortion rights in America and perhaps overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized the procedure nationwide as they indicated they would uphold a restrictive Republican-backed Mississippi law.
The court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, heard about two hours of oral arguments in the southern state's bid to revive its ban on abortion starting at 15 weeks of pregnancy, a law blocked by lower courts. The liberal justices warned against ditching important and longstanding legal precedents like Roe and abandoning a right American women have come to rely upon.
Abortion rights hinge on justices’ regard for precedent as they weigh Mississippi’s 15-week ban in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health.
By Todd J. Gillman
Nov 24, 2021
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has overturned hundreds of its own rulings since 1789, but hardly any on an issue as divisive as abortion rights.
Next Wednesday, the justices will hear arguments on a 15-week ban adopted by Mississippi in open defiance of Roe vs. Wade, which gives women another two months to legally terminate a pregnancy.
As Roe v. Wade faces its greatest challenge yet, young people are taking the reins to protect abortion access.
BY AMELIA POLLARD
AUGUST 5, 2021
Every day at the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, resembles trench warfare. Painted like a shade of bubble gum, the center has affectionately earned the nickname the “Pink House.” But its modern windows and copper roof are shielded from the street. Black plastic tarps and panels guard patients’ privacy by keeping the protesters out of eyesight.
Around a dozen anti-abortion protesters often show up with bullhorns and picket signs, while volunteers for the Pinkhouse Defenders, a nonprofit organization, thwart hecklers by blasting music and escorting patients from their cars to the clinic’s waiting room. In the last several months, volunteers have embraced TikTok as their weapon of choice, filming protesters and posting the videos on social media.
When abortion was illegal, there was no organized, aggressive antiabortion movement with a wing of violent fanatics.
By Katha Pollitt, The Nation
AUGUST 5, 2021
If they are shrewd, the six antichoice justices on the Supreme Court will resist the urge to overturn Roe v. Wade when they decide next term on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. At issue is a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks of gestation in explicit defiance of Roe, which protects abortion rights until around 24 weeks. Why hand the Democrats an issue that has worked well for them in purple states like Virginia? An attempt in 2012 to force women seeking abortions to have transvaginal ultrasounds backfired against Republicans so powerfully the state is now entirely under Democratic control.
Opinion by Melissa Murray
April 18, 2021
A federal appeals court last week allowed an Ohio law to take effect that bars doctors from performing abortions on women who choose to end their pregnancies because the fetus has Down syndrome. The law presents a head-on challenge to the right to abortion that could soon land at the Supreme Court — this time interlaced with sensitive questions of race and eugenics.
Such intrusive “reason bans,” which have been enacted around the country, are controversial — and almost immediately challenged — because they prohibit abortion before fetal viability. Most courts have applied the Supreme Court’s long-standing precedents to strike down such bans.