The U.S. Supreme Court has officially overturned Roe v. Wade. Let's break down how we got here and what comes next.
1. The Decision
On Friday, June 24, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 on Dobbs v. Jackson, overruling Roe v. Wade and eliminating the constitutional right to an abortion after almost 50 years. New York Times reporters annotated passages of the 78-page decision, adding context and explainers. Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion. In it, he argues Roe v. Wade and another case, Casey v. Planned Parenthood, “enflamed debate and deepened division” in America.
To better understand today’s debate, three women on the front lines of the abortion rights movement shared stories of the past. The women described a time before Roe when legal abortion wasn’t accessible — which is now the case for people in at least 21 states. They also described the turbulent time after the Roe ruling, offering important historical context to our current events.
2. Its Aftermath
The decision has implications for millions of Americans who will lose access to abortion services, but the ruling also thrusts the Supreme Court directly into the maelstrom of the nation’s polarized politics. The Christian Science Monitor posits the decision will perhaps affect how millions of citizens view the court’s role in the unique U.S. system of separated institutions that share and compete for power.
Now that Roe has been overturned, some people in pro-life movement think it’s time to focus on expanding America’s social safety net. Most people who seek abortions cite financial concerns as a leading reason for their decision. Women who have been denied access to abortion are more likely to be in poverty even years down the line. Will the members of the anti-abortion movement rally together to support women and families? And crucially, where will the funding and support come from?
3. The Court of Public Opinion
Advocates on each side of the aisle use popular arguments to persuade voters and public opinion. Some of these claims are scientifically accurate or support the viewpoints of certain communities. And some are false and not supported by available data or opinion polling. Here’s a fact check of seven of the most popular arguments.
Understanding these arguments and their origins requires a historical dive. Over the last 50 years, public opinion polls haven’t shown much change in the way most Americans view abortion, but the politics around the issue have changed. Dramatically. Over the decades, the ruling on Roe v. Wade turned into one of the biggest lightning rods in American politics, and those years were punctuated by crucial moments.
The abortion debate is often framed as women’s issue, but what place do men’s opinions and feelings have in the matter? They are, afterall, an essential part of creating a pregnancy. One man, Brian Nguyen, said men have been minimized, if not completely overlooked, in the conversation. That fosters “a societal expectation that they shouldn’t speak about it even among their closest network of friends and family,” he said. But many men, on both sides of the issue, are interested in speaking out and joining the conversation.
One of the ripple effects of last week’s Supreme Court decision is heightened emotions. Take a pause and take stock. Check in with your body. What are you feeling? If you notice negative, challenging or triggering thoughts, slow down. Steady yourself with a daily ritual, like a walk, breathing exercise, gentle stretches or a morning care routine. – MO
By Claire Cleveland, science writer
Edited by Shannon Mullane, senior editor
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