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

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

Panelists for this special podcast to discuss what the justices did and what the immediate ramifications might be are Julie Rovner of KHN, Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Sarah Varney of KHN, and Laurie Sobel, associate director for women's health policy at KFF.

Among the takeaways from this episode:

  • The court decision was quickly followed by a handful of states announcing that abortion bans are going into effect quickly.
  • Justice Samuel Alito's opinion quoted findings by the Mississippi legislature during its consideration of the abortion bill. But many of the details he quoted are incorrect and don't align with medical science.
  • Justice Clarence Thomas' concurring opinion suggested that the court could use the same logic in this decision to review earlier court rulings dealing with contraception and same-sex marriage. No other justice endorsed that view, but Thomas' opinion may provide a road map to groups hoping to make changes in those rulings.
  • President Joe Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland pledged to help women continue to find abortion services if their states deny the right. They said people will be allowed to go to other states for abortion care and they would work to ensure that pills used in medication abortions could still be delivered by mail.
  • The decision could have an impact beyond abortion, including access to certain types of contraception, in vitro fertilization, and what type of rights a state grants to a fetus and family.
  • Biden urged abortion rights supporters to use the power of the vote to make changes in their states and elect a Congress that would enact a law to protect abortion. But it's not clear yet whether the issue will galvanize voters in the fall.

Further reading on this subject:

KHN's "Conservatives on Supreme Court, as Expected, End Nationwide Right to Abortion," by Julie Rovner

KHN's "Misinformation Clouds America's Most Popular Emergency Contraception," by Sarah Varney

KFF's "16 States and DC Have State Laws Protecting the Right to Abortion if Roe v. Wade Is Overturned," by Laurie Sobel and Amrutha Ramaswamy

KFF's "The Availability and Use of Medication Abortion"

Kaiser Health NewsThis article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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