KFF Health News' 'What the Health?': A year without Roe

It's an understatement to say a lot has happened in the year since the Supreme Court overturned the nationwide right to abortion in its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization.

But while many of the subsequent legislative and court actions to either ban or preserve access to abortion were predicted, the decision has had other, sometimes far-reaching consequences.

In this special episode of KFF Health News' "What the Health?" four reporters who have closely covered the issue — host and KFF Health News chief Washington correspondent Julie Rovner, Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Shefali Luthra of The 19th, and Sandhya Raman of CQ Roll Call — try to condense all that has happened since the nationwide right to abortion was revoked.

The host

Julie Rovner KFF Health News @jrovner

Julie Rovner is chief Washington correspondent and host of KFF Health News' weekly health policy news podcast, "What the Health?" A noted expert on health policy issues, Julie is the author of the critically praised reference book "Health Care Politics and Policy A to Z," now in its third edition.

Panelists

Shefali Luthra The 19th @Shefalil

Alice Miranda Ollstein Politico @AliceOllstein

Sandhya Raman CQ Roll Call @SandhyaWrites

Among the takeaways from this week's episode:

  • In the Dobbs ruling last year, some justices said the decision would settle the issue of abortion in the courts. That has turned out not to be the case; jurisprudence about abortion access continues, largely in state courts.
  • President Joe Biden has issued executive orders to preserve access to reproductive health care, including recently by directing federal agencies to find ways to increase access to contraception. But not all of the administration's calls have translated into federal action, and some progressive groups are disappointed the Biden administration has not gone further in protecting abortion care.
  • Perhaps the most significant action in Congress has been Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) blocking Pentagon nominations over a Defense Department policy supporting the ability of troops and their dependents to travel for abortion care. So far he has held up more than 250 nominations amid accusations that he is undermining national security.
  • After Dobbs, there was anxiety in Democratic-run states that abortion restrictions would seep across state borders and lead to interstate prosecutions targeting abortion care. Those concerns have, so far, not materialized. Meanwhile, some states are attempting more roundabout ways to ban abortion, such as requiring all abortions be performed in hospitals when there are no hospitals in the state that perform the procedure.
  • Polls show voters are now more supportive of abortion access than they have been in many years; more opposed to second-trimester bans; and more likely to identify abortion as a key priority when they vote. Health care providers are finding themselves pressed into advocacy or choosing to move to other states, potentially creating long-term care deserts.
  • Plus, our panel of reporters reflects on one thing that will stick with them from their experiences covering abortion in the first year after the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Also this week, Rovner interviews Alina Salganicoff, senior vice president and director for Women's Health Policy at KFF. For KFF research and resources on reproductive health, click here.

Plus, for "extra credit," the panelists suggest the favorite abortion-related stories they wrote in the past year they think you should read, too:

Julie Rovner: KFF Health News' "Three Things About the Abortion Debate That Many People Get Wrong," by Julie Rovner.

Shefali Luthra: The 19th's "93 Days: The Summer America Lost Roe v. Wade," by Shefali Luthra.

Alice Miranda Ollstein: Politico's "Kansas' Abortion Vote Kicks Off New Post-Roe Era," by Alice Miranda Ollstein.

Sandhya Raman: Roll Call's "Conservatives Use Abortion Strategies in Fight Over Trans Care," by Sandhya Raman.

Credits

Francis Ying Audio producer Emmarie Huetteman Editor

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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