3 Key Takeaways From the Supreme Court Case That Could Potentially Overturn Roe v. Wade

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The bottom line: banning abortion forces women to carry pregnancies against their will. During arguments on Wednesday, justices gave hints about which way they will decide.

Conservative-leaning justices made their opinions more clear

Mark Joseph Stern, a reporter covering the case for Slate, wrote of the proceedings, “During oral arguments on Wednesday in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, five Republican-appointed justices made it abundantly clear that they are prepared to abolish the constitutional right to abortion established nearly 50 years ago in Roe v. Wade.” Stern cites, among other moments, Kavanaugh’s remark, “The Constitution is neither pro-life nor pro-choice on the question of abortion, but leaves the issue for the people of the states or perhaps Congress to resolve in the democratic process.” While Chief Justice John Roberts asked questions that seemed to look for a third option between affirming or revoking Roe, Kavanaugh reiterated that the Constitution is “neutral” on abortion.

Amy Coney Barrett seemed to suggest that abortion isn’t “forced motherhood” because adoption exists

In questioning, Coney Barrett pointed out that landmark Supreme Court abortion rights cases Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruled against restricting abortion in part because of the “burden of parenting” caused by abortion bans, Susan Matthews noted in Slate. “Why don’t safe haven laws take care of that problem?” Coney Barrett asked, referring to laws that allow parents to surrender infants for adoption. 

This implies that women seeking abortion should instead be forced through nine months of pregnancy, birth, and giving up a baby. In a 2019 article in the Atlantic, writer Olga Khazan pointed out that, when both abortion and putting a baby up for adoption are legal, choosing adoption is very, very rare. “In 2014, only 18,000 children under the age of 2 were placed with adoption agencies,” Khazan notes. “By comparison, there are about 1 million abortions each year.”

Liberal-leaning justices suggested that reversing Roe would be a bad look for the court

“Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?” Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked. “If people actually believe it’s all political, how will we survive? How will the court survive?” Justice Stephen Breyer likewise voiced the concern that cases like Dobbs v. Jackson give the public the impression that Supreme Court justices are “just politicians.” 

But while some analysts had predicted that Trump-appointees wouldn’t want to be perceived as partisan, New York Magazine writer Irin Carmon noted, “On Wednesday, neither Barrett nor Kavanaugh seemed inclined to disappoint the movement that put them on the Court.” She wrote, “This is how Roe v. Wade ends—without pretense or pretext, the conservative movement’s tireless dream of forced birth.”

The Supreme Court is likely to deliver a decision on the Mississippi case this summer. In the meantime, some experts say that women should plan carefully in case Roe v. Wade is overturned.

Jenny Singer is a staff writer for Glamour. You can follow her on Twitter. 

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