The Dobbs Decision and the Resumption of the State-By-State Abortion Debate
Added 06-26-22 06:55:01am EST - “Below is my column in USA Today on the reversal of Roe v. Wade. The column clarifies elements of the ruling. The issue of abortion will now return to the states where abortion is expected to remain?” - Jonathanturley.org
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Below is my column in USA Today on the reversal of Roe v. Wade. The column clarifies elements of the ruling. The issue of abortion will now return to the states where abortion is expected to remain legal for most women in the country. Roughly 13 states, however, are moving to end abortion and the decision obviously represents a major change in the rejection of a federal constitutional right to abortion services.
With the release of the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, politicians and pundits went public with a parade of horribles – from the criminalization of contraceptives to the reversal of Brown v. Board of Education. In reality, the post-Roe world will look much like the Roe world for most citizens.
The decision itself was already largely known. It did not dramatically change since the leak of an earlier draft. The conservative majority held firm in declaring that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided: “The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives.”
In the end, Chief Justice John Roberts cut a bit of a lonely figure in the mix of the court on the issue. His concurrence did not seriously question the majority view that Roe was not based on a good law. However, he would have stopped short of overturning the decision outright. It is the ultimate call of an incrementalist detached from the underlying constitutional interpretation.
The court now has a solid majority of justices who are more motivated by what they view as “first principles” than pragmatic concerns. From a court that has long used nuanced (and maddeningly vague) opinions to avoid major changes in constitutional doctrine, we now have clarity on this issue. It will return to the citizens of each state to decide.
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