What to Read About the Fall of Roe

This article is part of The D.C. Brief, TIME’s politics newsletter. Sign up Click hereSubscribe to receive stories similar to this in your inbox

The immediate sound of the falling of Washington was heard across Washington, as well as all over the nation. Roe V. WadeThe noises of the world reverberated on Friday, with echoing sounds that were so loud no one could hear them.

The 6-to-3 decision overturned 50 years worth of precedent regarding abortion rights and effectively gave individual states access to reproductive health. The right to abortion is now dependent on the location one lives, the ability to travel and whether there are any restrictions. The New Yorker Times editorial board writes: “Constitutional rights are meaningless unless they apply across the entire country.”

As Washington and state capitals wrangle with the new realities, it’s worth listening to some sage voices who have spent time considering Roe’s impact and, especially in the weeks since the leak of a draft of the Dobbs v. Jackson Rule, What a Post-RoeWhat the world might look like. The Senate will hold a hearing on July 12, to address this very issue. Although there is very little unanimity about the wisdom of the ruling, there is agreement on this: Friday’s ruling fundamentally changes America and sets up huge and sprawling consequences, not just for abortion rights but also potentially on contraception, marriage, and privacy.

Below are insights from several women about this historical day, including some of the featured writers TIME’s latest cover:

“The fall of RoeThis exposes the crack in mainstream liberal feminist feminism’s foundation that has been dominant for the last decade. This version of feminism—is it the fourth wave?—has been preoccupied with individual achievements, feel-good symbolism, and cultural representation. This has meant that it is not paying enough attention to the complex mechanics of state legislative races and federal courts. Many fourth wavers presumed that reproductive rights were basically secure, and that therefore the remaining obstacles for women were not legal or political but cultural and emotional.”

— Charlotte Alter, TIME correspondent


“In all the fury and emotion of this moment, historians are rightly cautioning against any suggestion that the U.S. may be on the precipice of another Civil War. However, it’s worth noting the fact that a decision to roll back a major civil rights will almost immediately have the effect of redrawing a starkly divided map of America. Around half the states will ban abortion completely or severely limit it while the remaining half will most likely strengthen access and preserve the status-quo. What’s clear now is that the period that we are entering will look not like 1972. Rather, it will be a futuristic steampunk version of the American past, as warring factions battle over new technologies and clash against new state laws that aim to dictate whose lives have value within their borders.”

— Abigail Abrams, TIME staff writer


“The hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty of the court’s right-wing justices lead to the conclusion that they have simply appointed themselves super-legislators free to impose a view of the United States as a White, Christian and male-dominated society despite the values, beliefs and choices of a majority of 330 million modern Americans.

“To understand how radical the court’s decision is, one need only consider Justice Clarence Thomas’s concurrence, where he says the quiet part out loud: He’d sweep away 14th Amendment substantive due process—birth control, gay marriage, all of it. We are headed in the right direction, and Thomas may be correct. It is not possible to destroy the broad view of liberty contained in the 14th Amendment when it comes down to abortion, or for any other personal decisions. The right-wing majority’s willingness to countenance an all-powerful state that interferes with every aspect of our lives is breathtaking.”

— Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post columnist


“As a pro-life advocate, I lament with those who feel they have lost a basic human right, as well as moral agency and hope for the future. It is for me. RoeThese losses were caused by them.

“Roe stripped from the prenatal child the right to continue to live and grow, safe and free from intentional harm. You will get it if you think, like I do, abortion is unjustly ending the life of an individual who is human. A person that, independent of her mother’s will, self-organizes and develops independently. Roe not as a ruling that liberates but as one that dehumanizes, first the fetus, then the rest of us.”

— Karen Swallow Prior, writing for The New York Times


“The coming devastation will not be limited to those seeking abortion. It is not possible to overrule RoeIt can also cause severe complications or even death for those who are pregnant. In real-time, we are going to find out that abortion is illegal Is reproductive health care because without it, pregnant patients across the spectrum will suffer.”

— Greer Donley and Jill Weiber Lens, writing for TIME


“‘Demontrably incorrect.’ There is very little that is vague about those words. With the death of abortion rights in America, Thomas has now come out and said, in no-uncertain terms, that cases that enshrined Americans’ rights to marry whomever they want and to make personal decisions about their intimacy and child-bearing are flat-out wrong. For now, that is just Thomas’ opinion—none of what he’s written is legally enforceable. But the fact that he’s stating this explicitly affirms the fears of advocates that for many conservatives the demise of Roe was never meant to be the end—but rather a bleak beginning.”

— Hannah Levintova, Mother Jones


“In the coming years, the court will face a series of momentous opportunities to perform its constitutional responsibilities. It will be called on to continue re-examining Congress’s authority to dictate state policy by attaching strings to funding measures. And in a series of cases over the past 30 years, the justices have issued rulings restoring some of the proper balance between the federal government and the states by reaffirming that there are limits on Congress’s authority to regulate interstate and foreign commerce. Those limits may now be tested depending on whether Congress decides to refederalize abortion by legislation either requiring or limiting its availability.”

— David B. Rivkin Jr. and Jennifer L. Mascott, writing for The Wall Street Journal


“After a career in the U.S. Senate of 25 years, full of big bills passed, coalitions forged and bridges physical and metaphorical built across rivers and party lines, Collins confronts a moment of truth: Was she duped into securing a sturdy majority on the court for an increasingly radical Republican Party? Or did she manage, as she has always tried to do, to find a compromise that serves her ideals, her self-interest and her institution alike?”

— Molly Roberts, Washington Post editorial writer

Washington is the place to be. Register for D.C. Brief Newsletter.

Read More From Time

Send an email to Philip Elliott at


Related Articles

Back to top button