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Supreme Court of the United States

What Happens if Roe v. Wade Is Overturned?

By Neal Hardin posted on:
May 3, 2022

On December 1, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that has the potential to be the most important case of our lifetimes. This case is challenging Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act, which limits abortions after 15 weeks (except in cases of medical emergencies and severe fetal abnormality).

Dobbs highlights that Roe v. Wade is egregiously wrong. States have an important and legitimate interest in protecting vulnerable and innocent life from conception. Roe v. Wade’s standards on abortion have never been workable and fail to account for new scientific developments that have reinforced that life begins at conception. That’s why so many pro-life laws like Mississippi’s repeatedly end up in court.

Mississippi is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade not only because the practice of abortion is egregiously wrong but because the so-called right to an abortion has no basis in the Constitution’s text, structure, or history. As a result, pro-life advocates are hopeful that the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade.

But if it does, then what would happen?

 

Roe v. Wade Supreme Court
Roe v. Wade must go. Life is a human right and should be protected at all stages of life.

 

What if Roe v. Wade is overturned?

Since abortion was not viewed as a federal issue before Roe v. Wade, regulations on abortions were left to the states. Most states had pro-life laws, either outlawing abortion entirely or only permitting it in rare cases like rape, incest, or if the mother’s life was in danger. Roe overturned the pro-life laws of nearly every state.

If Roe v. Wade itself is overturned, then states will once again be able to protect life.

 

What will happen in my state if Roe v. Wade is overturned?

It depends on the laws in your state. Organizations both friendly and unfriendly to the pro-life movement are tracking what a post-Roe world might look like in each state. Broadly speaking, these laws fall into a few categories:

  • Pre-Roe laws: These are laws that existed prior to 1973 but remain unenforced due to Roe. If Roe is reversed, these laws, most of which are strongly pro-life, could be enforced once again.
  • Trigger laws: These are laws that will go into effect (be “triggered”) should Roe be overturned. Numerous states have pro-life trigger laws.
  • Enjoined laws: Many states had pro-life laws that have been ruled unconstitutional by a court that could be brought back into effect with Roe’s reversal.
  • Pro-abortion laws: Several states have pro-abortion laws that codify a right to abortion in state law. These would remain in effect if Roe is reversed.

The pro-life Family Policy Alliance has a map of each state that contains a summary of laws concerning protection for unborn life, the rights of parents and medical professionals, the safety and health of women, etc.

 

How will overturning Roe v. Wade affect medical professionals?

If Roe v. Wade is reversed, states will be better able to protect the conscience rights of medical professionals who see abortion as a violation of their oath to “do no harm.” Pro-life legislation like Mississippi’s will help guard the integrity of the medical profession and ensure that doctors and other medical professionals can protect life instead of destroying it.

 

If Roe v. Wade is overturned, will this end abortion?

No matter the outcome of the Dobbs case, there is still much work to be done to end abortion. If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, we will rejoice at the additional protections that will be afforded to unborn children and their mothers. But, while many states will protect life, other states have passed (or will attempt to pass) laws that do the opposite. Overturning Roe v. Wade is a crucial first step, but it is only the beginning. The pro-life movement must continue to work to protect life as a human right for everyone, born or unborn.

 

What happens if Roe v. Wade is not fully overturned?

While a full reversal of Roe v. Wade is the only outcome consistent with the Constitution, it is possible that the Supreme Court will uphold Mississippi’s law but fail to overrule Roe in its entirety. This will allow states to protect life prior to viability—a win—but will require further work to overrule Roe entirely.

Roe must go. Life is a human right and should be protected at all stages of life.

Read more about Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization here.

 


Neal Hardin

Neal Hardin

Neal Hardin serves as Digital Writer for Alliance Defending Freedom


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