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One Year Post-Dobbs: A Brief Review

Post Authored By: Hannah Werner

On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States released a landmark decision that challenged fifty years of settled precedent.  Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decided that there was no constitutional right to privacy, which overruled the heart of Roe v. Wade that gave women the right to choose to have an abortion. In other words, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health opened the door for states to ban abortions. One year since the Dobbs decision, states have made significant changes to their respective laws governing abortion laws, such as:

  • Fourteen states completely banned abortion at any stage of pregnancy.
  • Two states banned abortions after six weeks.
  • One state banned abortions after twelve weeks.
  • Four states banned abortions between fifteen and twenty weeks.
  • Five states have judges actively blocking abortion bans.
  • Four states (plus Washington D.C.) allow abortion.
  • Twenty states allow abortion and added new protections.

Politicians are divided on their views on abortion; changes in state laws post-Dobbs reflect those partisan views. Some American voters believe that Congress should have made attempts to protect abortion while it was “safe” under Democratic reign while others believed that abortion is a states’ rights issue to be decided by the states as it is now post-Dobbs. It is fair to question whether American should be a country where a woman’s rights with respect to her body are decided by her state of residence? It is also far to ask why a woman in Illinois would be given more autonomy and more responsibility over her reproductive rights than a woman in Texas, Alabama or North Dakota?

There is no solution that will satisfy every American. Abortion rights is one of the most partisan issues we face as a country and we are clearly not united on this issue. It is a divisive topic and virtually every voter has an opinion.  In addition to the debate and discussion surrounding the specific rights or restrictions affecting abortion, there is also the issue that is unique to the practice of law: the effect of “unsettling” settled precedent.

While the @theBar blog is not here to push a particular political agenda or viewpoint, Dobbs demonstrated that even issues left undisturbed for fifty years can be changed. Many trusted that abortion was “safe” and that lawmakers would not change long-standing precedents such by Roe v. Wade or any other foundational case of American jurisprudence. Dobbs suggests that the only way for a law to remain “settled” is to amend our Constitution. However, with some states attacking the right to free speech under the First Amendment, it is not immediately clear what level of protection a Constitutional amendment that might actually afford.  

While there is no easy solution to abortion laws or a way to make everyone content, we can all only agree that the political system has become hyperpolarized. My hope is that the county will elect representatives that will attempt to bridge gaps and divides in order to find common ground.

About the Author:

In May of 2020, Hannah graduated with a B.A. in Public Relations and a B.A. in Psychology from Auburn University. After working at Ankin Law Office for almost a year, Hannah discovered an interest in law and joined the Chicago-Kent community. Hannah is currently a 2L representative for the Society of Women in Law, as well as a member of various organizations matching her passions, such as the First-Generation Law Student Association and the Chicago Kent Animal Legal Defense Fund. Following graduation, Hannah looks forward to a career in estate planning, real estate, or business law.

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