Supreme Court Friday overturned the legal right to abortion in the United States, giving the opportunity to regulate the procedure back to the states, more than half of which have promised to ban it. The decision in Dobbs V. Jackson Women’s Health Organization explicitly overturns the 1973 landmark case Roe v. Wadewhich guaranteed the right to abortion, prior to fetal viability, across the country.
Held: The Constitution does not give the right to abortion; Roe and Casey are set aside; and the authority to regulate abortion is given back to the people and their elected representatives, ”Judge Samuel Alito wrote for a majority. The decision was 6-3, with the court’s three liberal judges in dissent.
The decision – which will immediately launch the emergence of “trigger laws”In 13 states – was expected since a draft version was leaked in May. As it enters into force, it promises to roll back 50 years with profound changes in women’s lives in the United States and in family structures and welfare, created by Roe.
Since the early 1970s, American women’s marriage rate has halved and their university degree has quadrupled. The number of women not having children has more than doubled, and the number of women giving up jobs because they are raising children is half what it was.
Put more simply: over the last 50 years, women have been able to make choices that reshaped their lives because of access to legal, safe abortion. Now that Roe are overturned, some of these choices, and some of the life paths, may no longer be available.
“The ability to determine the timing of your childbirth is a pillar of the modern family,” said Philip N. Cohen, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, who argued in The New Republic in May that abortion rights are a fundamental component of democracy. “Abortion rights are central to women’s progress and are part of a package of self-determination and autonomy that is fundamental to women’s lives.”
It is important to state in advance that Roe The January 1973 decision does not represent a single moment in which all access to abortion in the United States changed, as if a contact had been reversed. Before Roe, the decision had been up to the state legislators, as it will be again. In the late 1960s, 11 states loosened what had been a total ban on abortion, to allow occasional exceptions, after examination by some kind of medical committee, for rape or incest, or to preserve women’s lives. More significantly, in 1970, Washington, DC, and five states – Alaska, California, Hawaii, New York, and the state of Washington – legalized abortion, both for their own residents and for women wealthy enough to get there.
What happened in these states during the three years before Roe decision gives economists and social scientists a natural experiment in the effects of legal access to safe abortion. Alaska, Hawaii, and the state of Washington were obviously difficult to get to; for the most part, only their residents benefited from legalization there. But California, New York, and Washington, DC were population centers served by many transportation routes. National data from that time are incomplete; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began counting abortions in 1969, but only about half of the states participated. These state data show that abortions increased after local legalization and decreased after Roe legalized them nationally. The natural conclusion is that women initially flocked to states where there was the possibility of abortions, but no longer needed to do so after Roe.