KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Supreme Court overturns ‘Roe’

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The Supreme Court formally overturned the nearly 50-year right to abortion. Bolstered by the three judges appointed by former President Donald Trump, the 6-3 vote swept from the books the two cases that established and upheld abortion rights; 1973’s Roe v. Wade and from 1992 Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey Planned Parenthood

Panelists for this special podcast to discuss what the judges have done and what the immediate consequences may be include KHN’s Julie Rovner, Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, KHN’s Sarah Varney, and Laurie Sobel, associate director for women’s health policy at KFF.

Among this episode’s takeaways:

  • The court’s ruling was quickly followed by a handful of states announcing that abortion bans are coming into effect soon.
  • Judge Samuel Alito’s opinion cited findings from the Mississippi legislature during its consideration of the abortion law. But many of the details he quoted are inaccurate and inconsistent with medical science.
  • Judge Clarence Thomas’s unanimous opinion suggested that the court could use the same logic in this decision to review previous court rulings on contraception and same-sex marriage. No other judge endorsed that view, but Thomas’s opinion may provide a roadmap for groups hoping to make changes to those rulings.
  • President Joe Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland pledged to help women continue to find abortion services if their state denies the right. They said people would be allowed to go to other states for abortion care and that they would work to ensure that pills used in drug abortions could still be delivered by mail.
  • The decision could have an impact beyond abortion, including access to certain types of birth control, in vitro fertilization, and what kind of rights a state grants to a fetus and family.
  • Biden urged abortion rights advocates to use the power of the vote to make changes in their states and elect a Congress that would pass a law to protect abortion. But it’s not yet clear whether the issue will excite voters in the fall.

Read more on this topic:

KHN’s “Supreme Court Conservatives, As Expected, End National Right to Abortion,” by Julie Rovner

KHN’s “Disinformation Clouds America’s Most Popular Emergency Contraception”, by Sarah Varney

KFF’s “Reading Tea Leaves After the Ree in States Without Abortion Bans or Protections,” by Laurie Sobel, Ivette Gomez, Michelle Long, and Alina Salganicoff

KFF’s “Abortion at SCOTUS: Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health,” by Laurie Sobel, Amrutha Ramaswamy, and Alina Salganicoff

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KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national editorial that produces in-depth journalism on health issues. Together with Policy Analysis and Polling, KHN is one of the three major operational programs of KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed non-profit organization that provides information on health issues to the nation.


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