Paving (or Unpaving) the Way to Safe, Legal Abortion: SCOTUS Cases

In the United States, abortion was not made legal by law, but rather by the Supreme Court. In 1973, SCOTUS found that abortion is a fundamental right under the right to privacy in Roe v. Wade. This constitutional right to privacy had been established by Griswold v. Connecticut, in 1965, a case in which an anti-contraception law was struck down due to the right to marital privacy. Consequently, the fight to restrict abortion access has been handled through the courts. There have been a number of landmark cases that shape the current state of abortion access. These include Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) and Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt (2016) which, alongside many other cases, have established certain legal guidelines affected abortion care. There are entire courses devoted to cases related to abortion and reproductive rights legislation, but here are a few resources about where we are today and how we got here.

An Overview of all Significant Supreme Court cases about abortion since 1973:

The rundown from 1973 – 2013:

  • A History of Key Abortion Rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court | David Masci | January 16, 2013

    Pew Research Center outlines the hallmark SCOTUS cases about abortion until 2013. They explain the significance of each case as well as the basis on which it was decided. Of note, since this was compiled in 2013, it does not include some recent important cases.

A better look at what Roe v. Wade really was and what it meant:

  • Roe v. Wade: The Daily

    The Daily (podcast) | Michael Barbaro | August 15, 2015

    In this two-part podcast episode, The Daily discusses the context in which Roe v. Wade was brought before the Supreme Court, the woman behind this case, and the cultural changes and movements that formed as a result of this case.

Wondering what might happen in Roe v. Wade is overturned?

  • What If Roe Fell?

    This webpage, which was produced and is updated regularly by the Center for Reproductive Rights, describes what the consequences would be in each state if Roe v. Wade were overturned.

For some communities, Roe v. Wade has functionally been overturned: 

  • ‘After’ Roe Is Now | Katie McDonough | June 28, 2018

    In this piece, Katie McDonough tells her own story, as well as those of others, about her forced pregnancy as a result of inaccessible abortion care. Through the poignant and unjust stories of people seeking reproductive healthcare, she asserts that “after Roe” is a reality for many today.

Understanding the decades long process of chipping away at Roe v. Wade:

  • Reversing Roe | August 1, 2022

    This 2018 documentary tracks the over 40-year-long effort to overturn Roe v. Wade. The film features interviews with politicians, abortion providers, pro-choice activists, and anti-abortion protestors.

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