On June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The decision upheld Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act, which limits abortions after 15 weeks (except in cases of medical emergencies and severe fetal abnormality).
This is a tremendous victory. Roe v. Wade was egregiously wrong. States have an important and legitimate interest in protecting vulnerable and innocent life from conception. Roe’s standards on abortion were never workable and fail to account for new scientific developments that help reinforce that life begins at conception. That’s why so many pro-life laws like Mississippi’s have repeatedly ended up in court.
Mississippi asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe not only because the practice of abortion is wrong but because the so-called right to an abortion has no basis in the Constitution’s text, structure, or history.
Thankfully, the Supreme Court has reversed this five-decades-old decision. But what happens now?
What did the Supreme Court decide in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ?
In a majority opinion authored by Justice Samuel Alito, the Supreme Court upheld Mississippi’s law protecting unborn life after 15 weeks . In doing so, the Court reversed the claim in Roe v. Wade that there is a Constitutional right to abortion. This decision also overturns Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which added a “viability standard” for evaluating abortion legislation. Roe created a national rule on abortion, removing policy decisions on abortion from state legislatures and the citizens they serve. Now, policies regulating abortion are returned to their proper place: the states.
What will happen now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned?
Since abortion was not viewed as a federal issue before Roe, 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.
Now that Roe itself is overturned, states will once again be able to protect life.
What will happen in my state?
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 which have been ruled unconstitutional by a court that could be brought back into effect with Roe’s reversal.
- Pro-abortion laws : Several states have a 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?
With Roe being reversed, states will now 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.
Now that Roe v. Wade is overturned, will this end abortion?
The pro-life cause received a major victory in the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs. But there is still much work to be done to end abortion. We rejoice at the additional protections that will be afforded to unborn children and their mothers after the reversal of Roe v. Wade. But, while many states will protect life, other states have passed (or will attempt to pass) laws that do the opposite. Overturning Roe 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.
Read more about Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization here.