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Abortion at the Crossroads: Reproductive Rights and Justice on the Precipice of Roe's Demise


Nearly fifty years after the Supreme Court recognized abortion as a constitutional right in the United States, the fate of Roe v. Wade hangs in the balance. This Article, written based on remarks delivered at the end of the Drexel Law Review’s October 2021 symposium on COVID-19, reproductive rights, and the law (and thus before the Court’s decision to overturn Roe), outlines the current state of abortion rights in the United States, focusing on the two cases that have tested the Court’s willingness to abandon Roe: Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson and Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Despite the grim outlook for reproductive rights, this Article also paves a path forward and explains how lessons learned from the pandemic, activism, and state legislation can protect reproductive rights.

Necessity is the mother of invention, and this dire state of reproductive rights will hopefully push the reproductive rights and justice movement to try new strategies and promote creative, bold ideas. It should push legislators—federal, state, and local—to take meaningful action to further reproductive rights and justice. The reproductive rights movement needs to take a few pages from the anti-abortion movement’s playbook. For decades, anti-abortion activists and politicians have tried almost anything imaginable to rid the country of legal abortion. Now, with the stage set for one of the most notable decisions in recent Supreme Court history, the reproductive rights movement must try almost anything imaginable to preserve legal abortion in the United States. The road ahead will surely be treacherous. The state of reproductive rights could soon get much worse. But dire straits create an opportunity for fighting back in new and innovative ways, and in doing so, we can navigate the current hostile environment and build a more just world that better protects reproductive health, rights, justice, and freedom.