June 24, 2022

Please see below for statements from O’Neill’s health law experts on the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

Lawrence Gostin, faculty director:

The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade strips a right that has been in place for nearly half a century, marking the single greatest reversal of women’s rights in American history. This Court’s blatant disregard for settled precedent, along with the previously leaked draft opinion, undermines the Court’s legitimacy and America’s trust in the federal judiciary. But even more troubling are the impacts on women who live in states banning or restricting abortion access. We are going to see “Two Americas,” one that protects women’s health and rights and one where women will have few, if any, reproductive rights. The Supreme Court’s decision will widen racial and health disparities across America. The Supreme Court has made the United States an outlier among peer countries that safeguard the right to abortion. Other constitutional rights, such as to contraception, marriage equality, and LGBTQ+ rights, could be in jeopardy, too.

Katie Keith, director of the Health Policy and the Law Initiative:

The Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is nothing short of a death sentence for some women, and the fallout will be swift and devastating. Access to abortion services, and related services like miscarriage management, will be even more dismal than they are now and will disproportionately burden low-income women and women of color who are already more likely to face barriers to abortion. No one should be forced to carry a pregnancy and give birth against their will. But that is exactly what the Supreme Court’s new conservative majority sanctions by overturning nearly 50 years of precedent and stripping women of a constitutionally protected right.

Rebecca Reingold, associate director of the Health and Human Rights Initiative:

Overturning Roe v. Wade allows states to decide whether to protect, ban, or regulate access to abortion. Abortion rights now depend entirely on the state where a person resides. Many women who are living in poverty, in rural areas, who are women of color, who are young, who are undocumented, and who experience intimate partner violence will find it impossible to access abortion services. Ultimately, women who are already marginalized and underserved will bear the primary burden of this decision, with devastating consequences for their health, well-being, and dignity. Harsh penalties for providing abortions will undermine the patient-physician relationship and dissuade physicians from treating miscarriages and other obstetric emergencies, resulting in worse maternal and infant health outcomes.

Andrés Constantin, assistant director of health law programs:

A country’s recognition, protection, and commitment to sexual and reproductive health rights, especially in recent years, have been indicative of a strong and robust democracy. Now, as countries around the Americas move towards the liberalization of abortion, the U.S. has taken a dangerous step back. We have seen how abortion bans play out in other countries, particularly in Latin America. The bottom line is that this SCOTUS decision will force women, girls, and adolescents to resort to clandestine, illegal, and unsafe abortion services. This decision will heavily limit women’s individual and autonomous decisions on matters related to their health and lives. It will coerce them into assuming a reproductive and maternal role, and it will perpetuate a model of family grounded on patriarchal preconceptions. With this decision, the U.S. is turning its back away from women seeking essential health care and joining the ranks of countries that ban abortion in most circumstances, such as Poland, Libya, Brazil and Iran.


For further comment or to schedule an interview, please contact Lauren Dueck at Lauren.Dueck@georgetown.edu.