What We Learned From Supreme Court Oral Arguments in Landmark Abortion Case

Journalist Dahlia Lithwick says the court seems poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, and questions what it will mean for public trust in the court.

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On Wednesday the Supreme Court heard arguments on the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, one of the most significant challenges to the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling. With a 6-3 conservative majority, SCOTUS seems poised to uphold Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, which Slate reporter Dahlia Lithwick says could mark the coming end of federal abortion protections.  

“What I think you’re going to see a is country that reverts to a place where wealthy women will be able to get abortions … but [less fortunate people], they are going to lose access.” –Dahlia Lithwick, Slate 


Listen: What the latest SCOTUS hearing means for the future of Roe v. Wade. 


Guest 

Dahlia Lithwick covers the courts and the law for Slate. She says to some SCOTUS justices, Roe v. Wade has more to do with politics than constitutional precedent. “These are the same justices who, at their confirmation hearings, said ‘oh no, Roe is binding precedent.’” While this case could significantly hinder access to safe abortions in the U.S., Lithwick says we’re already bearing witness to the future of severe abortion restrictions in places like Texas. “In some sense, even without the court doing anything, we’re already creeping into that realm [of extreme restrictions on abortion] … by hook and crook we’re getting there.”

If this case were to prompt the overturn of Roe v. Wade, abortion rights would vary under state jurisdiction. Lithwick says this wouldn’t end abortions, just safe and accessible ones, especially for people who are not wealthy. “What I think you’re going to see a is country that reverts to a place where wealthy women will be able to get abortions,” Lithwick says, but others like women of color, low-income people who can’t travel as easily, immigrants who can’t freely cross state lines “are going to lose access.” 

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