July 3, 2022
Historically, doctors have played a big role in abortion's legality. Back in the 1860s, physicians with the newly-formed American Medical Association worked to outlaw abortion in the U.S.
A century later, they were doing the opposite.
It’s a longshot, but court watchers are closely eyeing the chief justice for middle ground on Roe.
By JOSH GERSTEIN
When the two sides in the abortion debate squared off at the Supreme Court last fall, they agreed on one thing: There was no middle ground.
Now, any hope abortion rights supporters have of avoiding a historic loss before the court lies with Chief Justice John Roberts crafting an unlikely compromise. In the wake of POLITICO’s report last month on a draft majority opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, Roberts would have to convince at least one of his five Republican-appointed colleagues to sign on to a compromise ruling that would preserve a federal constitutional right to abortion in some form while giving states even more power to restrict that right.
BY KATE SHAW AND STEVEN MAZIE
MAY 27, 2022
It has been more than three weeks since the bombshell leak of a draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization—the pending Supreme Court case that could end abortion rights in America as we know them. Justice Samuel Alito’s draft pronounces Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision recognizing a constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy, “egregiously wrong from the start.”
Laced with contempt for a right that has stood for 49 years, the Dobbs draft overrules Roe along with the 1992 follow-on decision Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The weaknesses of the draft are many: a shockingly narrow view of constitutional rights; an insistence that killing “an unborn human being” poses a “critical moral question” with no acknowledgement that commandeering wombs might raise an ethical quandary, too; reasoning that, despite dubious disclaimers, puts other rights—including contraception, sexual intimacy, and marriage equality—at risk.
Antiabortion activists and their Republican allies are on the cusp of reaching a goal they have sought for decades in tossing out the 1973 Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion.
By Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey, Caroline Kitchener and Rachel Roubein, Washington Post
May 7, 2022
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell still remembers the shock he felt when Donald Trump won the 2016 election. He also recalls what happened next.
“The first thing that came to my mind was the Supreme Court,” McConnell said in an interview this past week, remembering his reaction that night as he watched results from a basement office at the National Republican Senatorial Committee. He soon called Donald McGahn, campaign counsel to the president-elect, who was slated to become the top White House lawyer.
At the state level, countless factors will converge to produce unpredictable results.
By Rachel Rebouché and Mary Ziegler
APRIL 25, 2022
Everything about the American abortion war has taken on an air of inevitability. The Supreme Court will reverse Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion decision establishing a constitutional right to end a pregnancy. The United States will divide along expected lines, with abortion broadly accessible in blue states and all but entirely criminalized in red states.
This narrative is not completely wrong. Twelve states have passed so-called trigger bans that will outlaw all or most abortions if Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey are overturned. At the same time, 16 states and the District of Columbia have policies guaranteeing abortion rights no matter what the Supreme Court decides.
After building toward such a moment for half a century, pro-life legal efforts aren’t likely to stop there.
By Jeannie Suk Gersen, The New Yorker
April 17, 2022
In 2003, when the Supreme Court held, in Lawrence v. Texas, that criminalizing gay sex was unconstitutional, it insisted that the decision had nothing to do with marriage equality. In a scathing dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, “Do not believe it.” Then, in 2013, when the Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act’s definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman, emphasizing the tradition of letting the states define marriage, Scalia issued another warning, saying that “no one should be fooled” into thinking that the Court would leave states free to exclude gay couples from that definition. He was finally proved right two years later, when the reasoning on dignity and equality developed in those earlier rulings led to the Court’s holding that the Constitution requires all states to recognize same-sex marriage.
What will the future of abortion in America look like?
By Jessica Bruder
APRIL 4, 2022
One bright afternoon in early January, on a beach in Southern California, a young woman spread what looked like a very strange picnic across an orange polka-dot towel: A mason jar. A rubber stopper with two holes. A syringe without a needle. A coil of aquarium tubing and a one-way valve. A plastic speculum. Several individually wrapped sterile cannulas—thin tubes designed to be inserted into the body—which resembled long soda straws. And, finally, a three-dimensional scale model of the female reproductive system.
The two of us were sitting on the sand. The woman, whom I’ll call Ellie, had suggested that we meet at the beach; she had recently recovered from COVID-19, and proposed the open-air setting for my safety. She also didn’t want to risk revealing where she lives—and asked me to withhold her name—because of concerns about harassment or violence from anti-abortion extremists.
Ketanji Brown Jackson’s hearing offered a glimpse of upcoming culture war fights at the court
By Melissa Murray
March 25, 2022
For more than two decades, confirmation hearings for Supreme Court justices have revolved around a single question: whether the nominee would uphold or overrule Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that recognized nationally a woman’s right to choose an abortion. As far back as the ill-fated confirmation hearings for Robert Bork in 1987, abortion has always been the elephant in the room, prompting thinly veiled questions about fidelity to precedent and “unenumerated rights” — rights not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution.
With this in mind, the hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson were unlike those that came before. Not only is Jackson the first Black woman to be nominated to the high court, but she is also the first nominee to be vetted in a soon-to-be post-Roe landscape.
In anticipation of the court’s decision, a frenzy of legislative activity to shut down access to abortion forms a picture of a post-Roe America.
By Kate Zernike
March 7, 2022
Both sides of the abortion debate anticipate that come July, the Supreme Court will have overturned Roe v. Wade and with it the constitutional right to abortion, handing anti-abortion activists a victory they have sought for five decades. But from Florida to Idaho, Republican-led state legislatures are not waiting: They are operating as if Roe has already been struck down, advancing new restrictions that aim to make abortion illegal in as many circumstances as possible.
Under Roe, states cannot prohibit abortion before a fetus is viable outside the womb — around 23 weeks into pregnancy. But bills moving through legislatures are outlawing abortion entirely, or at six, 12 or 15 weeks of gestation. On Thursday, Florida passed a 15-week ban even as opponents warned it was unconstitutional so long as Roe stands. In Oklahoma, a Senate committee approved a bill that would prohibit abortion starting 30 days after the “probable” start of a woman’s last monthly period.
By Rachel Rebouché and Linda C. McClain, opinion contributors, The Atlantic
With Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement recently announced, national attention has focused on who President Biden will nominate in keeping his promise to appoint the first Black woman to the Supreme Court.
Another aspect of Biden’s nomination has received far less attention: A new justice on a lopsidedly conservative court would likely join Justice Sonia Sotomayor in writing dissents speaking to the future. The vital role of dissenting opinions is evident this term, as the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade by early summer or to weaken it so thoroughly that Roe poses no meaningful barrier to states criminalizing abortion.