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Saturday, January 28, 2023

January 28-29, 2023: AbortionStudying: Dobbs and Everything After

[On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court released the Roe v. Wade decision. So this week I’ve AmericanStudied that case and a handful of other histories and stories of abortion in the U.S., leading up to this weekend post on the current laws and debates.]

On three ongoing aftermaths of the June 2022 Dobbs decision.

1)      Anti-abortion laws: The most dramatic and divisive aftermath of Dobbs has been the spate of extremist laws through which state legislatures have sought to limit (or, more accurately, outlaw entirely) abortion. Even more troubling have been the number of legislators who have felt free to express their opposition to abortion in even the most extreme circumstances, including in far too many instances child rape. Given how much the anti-abortion movement relies on narratives of protecting children’s lives, that last detail is particularly telling about which children and which lives the movement does and does not value.

2)      Marriage rights: As extreme as those ongoing responses have been, they’re far from the only stunningly reactionary aftermaths and applications to Dobbs we’ve seen in the last half-year. Because the Court’s decision more broadly brought into question the idea of a Constitutional right to privacy, various conservative forces have read the decision as a license to attack another recently guaranteed federal right—the right of all Americans to marry the partner of their choice. That includes not only same-sex marriage but also, and perhaps even more stunningly still, interracial marriage. To say that these forces wish to bring America back to the 1950s is, if anything, an understatement.

3)      The future of the Court: In one of my first HuffPost columns, nearly seven years ago now, I made the case that the Supreme Court has always been political. I would still argue the same, and it’s an important thing to remember; but nonetheless, there’s no doubt in my mind that the Court has become more openly partisan in recent years, thanks in no small measure to the three Justices appointed by our insurrectionist former president. Which means it might well be time to seriously consider expanding the Court, an idea that becomes much easier to contemplate when we recognize that the number of Justices is not Constitutional and has varied and evolved throughout our history. I don’t take such changes lightly, but neither do I—nor should we—see the Court as sacrosanct, for precisely the reason that it has always been part of our political debates and processes. In any case, in the aftermath of Dobbs, we can and must think about all ways to fight for the Court, the laws, and the nation we need.

Next series starts Monday,


PS. What do you think?

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