Hello. I hope you are having a good weekend. The moment that many had hoped and prayed for, and that many others feared, came to pass on Friday when the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Roe v. Wade is no more.
Sometimes, major events are sudden, surprising, and dramatic: The pandemic became real on one night in March 2020 when, almost simultaneously, Tom Hanks announced he had COVID and the NBA shut down after a player named Rudy Gobert tested positive. I can recall the surreal feeling that overcame me when hordes of protesters took over the Capitol on January 6, and the dread I felt on February 24 when images of explosions in and around Kyiv took over news broadcasts.
The Dobbs decision will go down as a significant event in our country’s history, but—even though this result was telegraphed when Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion was leaked last month—it’s something that needs a little time to sink in. That’s not to say it didn’t have an immediate effect. Abortion-rights supporters are protesting around the country. Some states still have abortion bans from before Roe that are now back in effect, and others had passed “trigger bans”—laws that would go into effect were Roe to be overturned. (This NPR article is useful for sorting out which states have such laws.) The Washington Post published a story about a Texas clinic that stopped performing abortions the minute the decision came down, turning away women who’d been in the waiting room.
I say that it needs time to sink in because it will take time to see how some aspects play out. As many—including Ruth Bader Ginsburg—have noted, Roe v. Wade made the abortion debate more contentious. Returning the matter to elected officials might prompt a more serious debate, but probably not right now while tempers are flaring.