The Supreme Court decision ending abortion access for millions of Americans did not come as a surprise. But having a leaked preview of Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion in advance has not dulled the outrage over the end of Roe v. Wade in America. Immediately after the ruling was announced, protesters began assembling outside the Court to express their fury. Democrats, without immediate recourse, read poems on television. Meanwhile, Republican-controlled states, now given by a green light by the Court, began moving forward with immediate bans restricting access to abortion. Below are updates on the ongoing fallout from the most consequential Supreme Court decision in decades.
Shock and outrage abroad, too
The magnitude of the Dobbs decision has also made waves in other countries, where leaders have condemned the ruling and America’s backslide on rights, and there have been some demonstrations in response, too. For some context, the U.S. is now one of only three developed nations in the world that has reduced access to abortion in the 21st century — joining Nicaragua and Poland.
In France, both President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist Renaissance Party and the left-wing La France Insoumise Party (who together form a parliamentary majority) have vowed to enshrine the right to an abortion into the country’s constitution. Abortion-rights protesters also took to the streets of Paris on Friday and Saturday. Germany’s Parliament on Friday reversed a Nazi-era ban on advertising abortion services. The chief justice of the Mexican Supreme Court, which decriminalized abortion just last year, said Friday, “Rarely have I been as proud to be part of the Mexican Supreme Court as I am today.” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the U.S. Supreme Court ruling “horrific” and said that “women in Canada know that we will always stand up for your right to choose.” British prime minister Boris Johnson said the Dobbs decision was a “big step backwards,” and Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon called Friday “one of the darkest days for women’s rights in my lifetime.”
The piecemeal legal fight ahead
Several states have guarantees of privacy, autonomy, and bodily integrity in their constitutions that are absent in the federal constitution. In Florida, for example, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood have already sued to stop a 15-week abortion ban on the basis of the state’s constitution, which contains a right to privacy. (Since the law is set to go into effect on July 1, the hearing on the ACLU’s motion for a preliminary injunction is this Monday.) In Utah, they filed suit on Saturday on the basis of several parts of that state’s constitution covering family rights and the right to privacy. Meanwhile, in Michigan, the ACLU won an injunction last month to stop the state’s 90-year-old abortion ban from going into effect once Roe v. Wade was overturned. A court there found that the ban violates the rights to liberty, bodily integrity, and privacy under Michigan’s constitution and civil-rights laws. Similar cases are pending in Ohio and North Carolina. “We have years of experience suing under state constitutions when there were laws that we couldn’t challenge federally,” said Amiri, citing the exclusion of abortion coverage from Medicaid as one example.
State laws can also be used to defend abortion rights where Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, or RFRAs, are in force. Under the RFRA, any time a law substantially burdens religious practice, the government must show that law is narrowly tailored to further a compelling state interest. Using that standard, state and federal courts have carved out numerous religious exemptions to laws to which conservative Christians, Jews, and Muslims objected, from LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination laws to COVID rules to requirements that prisoners be clean-shaven.
Read the rest of Michaelson’s analysis here.
Interest in birth control, emergency contraception, and abortion pills surges
The New York Times reports that health-care providers are seeing an increase in attention on the various options for preventing and ending pregnancy:
Especially in the nine states that had banned the procedure by Sunday, women appeared to fear a tightening of access to family planning resources and some were stockpiling options. The increased demand reflected a growing concern that the court’s ruling was part of a broader effort to prevent Americans from determining for themselves when and whether to become pregnant.
The Cut has published an explainer about stockpiling abortion pills, including how it is medically safe to store (and use) the pills at home:
Abortion pills are vastly safer than some medications you might already have in your medicine cabinet, like Tylenol. “As long as you understand how to use the pills and have access to follow-up care in the rare event that you might need it, it’s not really a medical risk,” says Wells. (Not sure how to use abortion pills? Here are resources that can help.)
Read the rest of the explainer here.
New poll, same story: Most Americans disapprove of overturning Roe
The first public opinion poll since Friday’s ruling is out. From CBS News’ summary of the CBS-YouGov survey (which was conducted on June 24 and 25):
By more than a 20-point margin, Americans call it a step backward rather than forward for America. And women, by more than three to one, think the ruling will make women’s lives worse rather than better.
Those who approve — and in particular, the three-fourths of conservatives who do — say they feel both hopeful and happy.
As they look ahead, those disapproving of Friday’s ruling are especially likely to think the high court might someday limit or end birth control and also same-sex marriage. Views on Roe being overturned divide along partisan lines, though perhaps not as completely as political debate or legislative battles might suggest. One in six Democrats approves, and one in five Republicans disapproves. Across demographic groups, younger people are especially likely to disapprove; most moderates disapprove along with nine in 10 liberals; two-thirds of Hispanic Americans disapprove, three-fourths of Black Americans and just over half of White Americans disapprove.
GOP operatives seem blasé about midterms blowback
Ben Jacobs spoke to several of them about the political ramifications of Roe being overturned, and they mostly replied with a collective “meh” — and some were even bullish:
[S]ome of the Republicans thought it could actually be a net plus for the GOP in the fall. This was not because of the impact of the issue per se, but a sense that Democrats would turn it into a self-inflicted wound. “Democrats are going to overplay their hand,” one well-connected Republican predicted. “They overplay every hand they get.” The insider thought, for instance, that “there’s going to be violence and [Democrats are] not going to denounce the violence.” Another red-state operative put it more bluntly: The sight of “a bunch of pink-haired women lighting fires in the streets” was not going to motivate moderate pro-choice women to vote for Democrats.
Read the rest of the report here.
Police in Iowa are investigating confrontation involving a truck driver and abortion-rights protesters
A pedestrian taking part in a demonstration for abortion rights in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Friday suffered minor injuries after coming into contact with a truck. It’s not yet clear what happened, but protesters have accused the driver of pushing through an intersection while they were in the crosswalk. Videos of at least part of the incident show protesters confronting the moving truck, including some standing in front of the vehicle attempted to stop it. Police have interviewed both the protester and the driver, and are looking for additional footage of the event. Per CNN:
Police said a preliminary investigation showed a group of protesters was “attempting to legally cross the street” in front of the courthouse around 7:17 p.m. local time, when the traffic light changed, giving the intersection’s right of way to vehicles. Police said “verbal confrontations” took place between the protesters and a driver, and “contact was made” between the vehicle and one of the protesters.
Warren: Consider using federal land for abortion access; Biden should declare a public-health emergency
On Friday afternoon, Senator Elizabeth Warren called on the Biden administration to look into how to use federal land to protect abortion access, including offering abortion in states that have banned it — though it’s far from clear this would even be possible. And in a New York Times op-ed on Saturday, she and Senator Tina Smith urged Biden “to declare a public health emergency to protect abortion access for all Americans, unlocking critical resources and authority that states and the federal government can use to meet the surge in demand for reproductive health services.”
Abortion funds have raised more than $3 million since the ruling was announced
Local organizations that support people seeking abortions have collectively raised more than $3 million since the Supreme Court announced the end of Roe v. Wade on Friday morning. The New York Times reports that the National Network of Abortion Funds, comprising some 97 organizations, had received about 33,000 new donations by Friday afternoon.
“Find the way to hope, not as feel-good anesthetic but as tactical necessity”
At the Cut, Rebecca Traister warns against despair:
It is no accident that many who believed this came from or moved into classes of power and privilege, where they could remain insulated from the erosions that have been grinding away this whole time, right under their noses. This stubborn belief in a kind of Forever Progress — the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice, etc. — has undergirded a political message that there was nothing to worry about. It has prevented a proper understanding of this country’s history and its foundational power imbalances. And now it is the shattering of this belief that pulls people toward despair.
But despair is poison. It deadens people when the most important thing they can do is proceed with more drive and force and openness than they have before. Which is why the work ahead is insisting on hope, behaving as if there is reason for hope, even if you feel, based on the ample available evidence, that there is not.
Read the rest of Traister’s response to the end of Roe v. Wade here.
More large employers are announcing they will cover abortion costs in restricted states
In what looks like a new corporate commitment for many large businesses operating in more than one state, numerous employers are announcing that they will pay into the thousands to help their staff in states with abortion bans to travel to seek care in legal states.
Disney, at the front lines of a culture war with Florida governor Ron DeSantis, said in an internal memo that it will cover travel expenses for out-of-state abortions. Beginning in July, JPMorgan Chase employees will receive benefits covering health-care services “that can only be obtained far from your home, which would include legal abortion,” according to a company Q+A. One of the most generous funds comes from Dick’s Sporting Goods, whose CEO announced on LinkedIn that the company will “provide up to $4,000 in travel expense reimbursement to travel to the nearest location where that care is legally available,” a benefit that is extended to dependents and spouses. Prior to the decision, companies including Netflix, Patagonia, Comcast, DoorDash, PayPal, and Paramount told employees travel costs would be covered for out-of-state abortions.
Patagonia added another novel benefit on Friday: It is now offering to provide bail money for any employee who is arrested at an abortion protest.
The Court’s dissenting justices offered a reality check
Writes Irin Carmon:
When the majority opinion authoritatively tells us not to believe what is happening in front of our own eyes (or what will happen next as a result of its decision), when it sets terms that erase the impact on actual people’s lives — it helps to have something in black and white that says to the public, You are not crazy. This is what the 66-page dissent by Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan does. ….
If the test that the majority opinion constructs for whether abortion can be banned in half the states — whether it is rooted in the tradition of the 14th Amendment — strikes you as a rigged game, you are not alone. The dissenters, in unusually damning language, bury originalism. “Those responsible for the original Constitution, including the Fourteenth Amendment, did not perceive women as equals, and did not recognize women’s rights,” they write. “When the majority says that we must read our foundational charter as viewed at the time of ratification (except that we may also check it against the Dark Ages), it consigns women to second-class citizenship.”
Read the rest of Carmon’s analysis of the dissent here.
New York lawmakers vow to continue the fight
Politicians across New York State have begun to weigh in on the momentous decision. “It is a day, a dark day for women across this nation who have long fought for the right to have control over their own bodies,” Governor Kathy Hochul said, calling the decision “repulsive at every level.” She added that it’s a fight her grandmother and mother’s generations had to wage, and one the generation of her new granddaughter, born this may, will probably need to continue.
Not long after the announcement, the governor and the State Department of Health announced a public-education initiative that will inform New Yorkers and visitors to the state about their abortion rights in New York. The campaign will launch in radio and digital ads but also in high-traffic areas like airports, shopping centers, and transit hubs.
Mayor Eric Adams spoke in front of City Hall Friday, calling today “one of the darkest periods of our country,” and describing the Supreme Court’s decision as “the erosion and destruction of the ability of women to have and be empowered.” Adams said that “New York will be the safe haven for America and for the women of this country,” and will be open to any woman across the nation who might have to leave their home city or state to seek abortion care.
Attorney General Garland says states can’t ban FDA-approved abortion pills
Merrick Garland said in a statement on Friday that the Department of Justice will protect providers and patients in states that will not restrict abortion and will work with the Food and Drug Administration to maintain access to medications like mifepristone for medical abortions. “States may not ban mifepristone based on disagreement with the FDA’s expert judgment about its safety and efficacy,” he said. In December, the FDA lifted a restriction on the abortion pill, which allowed doctors to prescribe online and send to patients by mail.
The Christian right’s power finally becomes real
Jonathan Chait warns:
The long era in which social-conservative ambitions were funneled into judicial appointments was also one in which social liberalism seemed to be enjoying an unstoppable march … But now, social conservatives perceive the opportunity to roll back the liberalizing tide and bear the confidence of a movement that sees its time has come. It is possible they will use this power to navigate a prudent Burkean course, but this would be wildly out of character with the nature of a movement that long ago gave itself over completely to fanaticism and absolutism.
Read the rest of Chait’s response here.
Trigger laws immediately end access to abortion in four states with many more soon to come
So-called trigger laws — state-level abortion restrictions designed to go into effect as soon as Roe was overturned — have now banned abortion access in Louisiana, Kentucky, Missouri, and South Dakota. Arkansas quickly joined the list later Friday. And Idaho, North Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Wyoming have bans that are expected to go into effect within 30 days. Oklahoma and Texas already had bans in effect. Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, South Carolina, and West Virginia are expected to implement abortion bans in the coming months.
On Friday, Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin also asked four Republican lawmakers to write legislation to ban abortion in the state.
Biden: “The health and life of women in this nation are now at risk”
President Joe Biden responded to the Supreme Court’s decision in a White House address, calling it a “sad day” for both the institution and for the nation. “Now, with Roe gone, let’s be very clear: The health and life of women in this nation are now at risk,” he said.
Biden placed the blame squarely at the feet of the court’s conservative wing, particularly on Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, who were appointed and confirmed by his predecessor: “It’s the realization of an extreme ideology and a tragic error by the Supreme Court, in my view,” Biden said. “The Court has done what it has never done before: expressly take away a constitutional right that is so fundamental to so many Americans that it had already been recognized.”
Biden said his administration will fight to protect the “bedrock right” of a woman to travel outside of her state to receive abortion care and to receive medication through the mail to end a pregnancy. But he made it clear there was still much more to do. “The only way we can secure a woman’s right to choose, the balance that existed, is for Congress to restore the protections of Roe v. Wade as federal law. No executive action from the president can do that,” Biden said.
The president reemphasized the importance of voting, urging Americans to vote this fall to elect politicians on the local and federal level who would support codifying Roe. “We need to restore the protections of Roe as law of the land. We need to elect officials who will do that. This fall, Roe is on the ballot,” he said. He stressed that protests against the decision should remain peaceful:
Police in riot gear rush to the Supreme Court, where demonstrations over the ruling are already underway
Trump wants the credit for the ruling; Pence calls for national abortion ban
The former president, as expected, made the Supreme Court decision about himself. In a statement, he described the six-to-three ruling as the biggest “WIN for LIFE in a generation,” which was “only made possible because I delivered everything as promised, including nominating and getting three highly respected and strong Constitutionalists confirmed to the United States Supreme Court.”
However, the New York Times reports that Trump has been privately saying for weeks that the decision will be “bad for Republicans.”
Speaking with Breitbart News on Friday, former vice-president Mike Pence celebrated Roe v. Wade being “consigned to the ash heap of history” and made a call to arms: “Having been given this second chance for Life, we must not rest and must not relent until the sanctity of life is restored to the center of American law in every state in the land,” he said in a statement.
The compounded health risk for American women
At the Cut, Claire Lampen gives an overview of the increased mortality risk now being forced on women:
It’s impossible to tell just how many people died because of botched abortions pre-Roe, though the WHO estimates that 4.7 to 13.2 percent of the world’s current maternal deaths result from unsafe abortions. Domestically, multiple studies show that the more restrictions on abortion a state enacts, the higher its maternal- and infant-mortality rates tend to be. (Mississippi, incidentally, has the highest infant-mortality rate in the country.) That’s not necessarily because people are seeking out unsafe avenues to end their pregnancies; more likely, it’s because their state governments balk at subsidizing reproductive health care in all its forms. According to Pew Research, about a quarter of annual maternal deaths occur six weeks to a year after pregnancy ends — but in Mississippi, the legislators advocating for forced birth are the same ones who repeatedly refuse to extend Medicaid coverage to postpartum care, while targeting the contraceptives that help keep unwanted pregnancy rates low in the first place.
Read the rest of Lampen’s piece here.
Regrets: Susan Collins may have a few
The pro-choice senator, who voted to confirm Kavanaugh and Gorsuch, claims they misled her on Roe v. Wade:
Clarence Thomas argues same-sex marriage isn’t safe either
In his concurring opinion, Thomas wrote that “in future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell.” As Ed Kilgore explains, Thomas wants to consider these landmark decisions — which protect access to contraception, same-sex relationships, and same-sex marriage — relying on similar constitutional foundations to that of Roe:
All three cases depended, to some degree, on the doctrine that the 14th Amendment’s due-process clause was not simply procedural but conferred some ‘substantive’ rights. Thomas is calling for the conservative counterrevolution now raging due to the brazen dismissal of precedents in Dobbs to proceed to the next logical targets.
Read the rest of his analysis of Thomas’s opinion here.
Pelosi says she is “personally overwhelmed” by the decision — then reads a poem
The liberal dissent: “A woman has no rights”
As Nia Prater notes, the three liberals on the court, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor, issued a joint dissent arguing against the end of Roe:
They wrote that the court had long held a balance between the many differing opinions of Americans on abortion, issuing a variety of decisions that allowed some limits to be set on the procedure but not allowing an undue burden to be placed upon a woman who might seek it. “Today, the Court discards that balance. It says that from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of,” the justices wrote.
A treacherous new landscape nationwide
Irin Carmon explains in her post on the ruling:
According to the Guttmacher Institute, 16 states are now “certain or likely” to ban abortion. In 13 states, this is expected to be automatic, through “trigger bans” designed to ban nearly all abortions if Roe were overturned. In Oklahoma, such a ban is already being observed; since last September, the Supreme Court has allowed Texas to ban most abortions, starting at around six weeks. Many of these states border one another, creating vast deserts of reproductive freedom across the South and Midwest, where, at minimum, providers will be criminalized and anyone who can become pregnant will be instantly stripped of their rights. Blue states, mainly on the coasts, are already preparing to become abortion oases, while the decision sets up titanic battles in purple states, especially ones with divided state governments.
Read the rest of Carmon’s analysis of the ruling here.
This post will be updated continuously to reflect new developments.
More on Life after Roe
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- Abortion-Rights Fight Finally Gives Kamala Harris a Chance to Lead
- Kansas Shows the Potential Power of Pro-Choice Republican Voters