Since the draft decision was leaked in early May, it has been anticipated the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, two historic decisions guaranteeing women the right to an abortion. This morning, in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court overturned 49 years of precedent, announcing that there is no constitutional right to an abortion. Writing for the majority, Justice Alito stated: “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. The constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision…”
The majority opinion claims that post Roe decisions affecting individual rights, such as the right to marry a person of the same sex (Obergefell), right to contraception (Griswold), right the right to engage in private, consensual sexual acts (Lawrence), will not be affected by this ruling: “Nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion.”
However, Justice Thomas’ concurrence calls into question individuals’ substantive rights: “…[I]n future cases, we could reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents including, Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell. Because any substantive due process decision is “demonstrably erroneous.”
The dissenting opinion eloquently summarizes the consequences of the Court ruling: “…It says that from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of. A State can force her to bring a pregnancy to term, even at the steepest personal and familial costs. An abortion restriction, the majority holds, is permissible whenever rational, the lowest level of scrutiny known to the law. And because, as the Court has often stated, protecting fetal life is rational, States will feel free to enact all manner of restrictions. The Mississippi law at issue here bars abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy. Under the majority’s ruling, though, another State’s law could do so after ten weeks, or five or three or one—or, again, from the moment of fertilization. States have already passed such laws, in anticipation of today’s ruling. More will follow. Some States have enacted laws extending to all forms of abortion procedure, including taking medication in one’s own home. They have passed laws without any exceptions for when the woman is the victim of rape or incest. Under those laws, a woman will have to bear her rapist’s child or a young girl her father’s—no matter if doing so will destroy her life…”
As of July 1, 2022, the State of Florida will ban most abortions after fifteen weeks. Unlike other states, Florida does not have an automatic trigger law which will immediately come into effect after this ruling.
It is important to know your rights, the current laws of your state, and proposed bills in the legislature imposing further restrictions. Certain states are passing laws which would prohibit abortions before the individual is even aware that they are pregnant.
The entire decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization can be found here: