The overturning of Roe v. Wade

by Yazmin Macias / Sep 15, 2022



In this kid-friendly podcast, Worth Noting delves into hot topics in the world currently. Host Matthew Winner dives into each topic and brings information to the front. Looking at the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, causing detrimental effects for abortion rights across the United States. 


This post has been lightly edited for clarity.  

Matthew: On Friday, June 24th, 2022, the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a ruling on women’s reproductive rights that has stood for nearly 50 years. The implications of this decision are Worth Noting. 



The Supreme Court, the highest court in the United States, voted to overturn its 1973 ruling of Roe v. Wade last week. When a court decides to overturn a ruling, it means that the justice or justices disagree with a decision that was previously made by a court. These disagreements can happen for many different reasons, but often it comes down to the justice or justices determining that a rule or law that was made in the past is no longer correct.  


This might be because society’s norms and expectations have changed, such as in the case of segregation or gay marriage rights.   


It may be because the justice or justices have looked critically at the decision and determined that, in their opinion, the rule or law was passed for the wrong reasons. 


In the case of Roe v. Wade, Justice Samuel Alito said that the 1973 Roe ruling and repeated subsequent high court decisions reaffirming Roe "must be overruled" because they were "egregiously wrong," the arguments "exceptionally weak" and so "damaging" that they amounted to "an abuse of judicial authority."


That is very strong language and you can imagine why someone or a group of people with such strong opinions would want to make sure that they felt that laws were created fairly or were updated or overturned if they were not. 





But rarely do all people agree when it comes to decision-making. And in this case, opinions on the ruling were so strong that it immediately ignited protests across the country. 



The case that was overturned, Roe v. Wade, was decided in a 7-2 vote on January 22, 1973. Reading from Britannica, “In a majority opinion written by Justice Harry A. Blackmun, the Court held that a set of Texas statutes criminalizing abortion in most instances violated a woman’s constitutional right of privacy, which it found to be implicit in the liberty guarantee of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (“…nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”).” 


Let’s unpack that starting with its most central word: abortion. An abortion is a medical procedure that terminates or ends an unwanted pregnancy.


Broadly speaking, there are two opposing parties of thought around abortion: pro-life and pro-choice. 


Pro-life individuals believe that the human life of an unborn child should be protected at all costs, regardless of the opinion of the pregnant individual. They believe that expecting parents should not have the right to choose whether or not their unborn child lives, regardless of how early the pregnant person is in their pregnancy. 


Pro-choice individuals believe that it is the pregnant person’s right to make choices that involve their body, including choices around pregnancy and, specifically, carrying the child to term. 


The words “carrying to term” typically refer to staying pregnant the full nine months or until a baby is ready to be born. Individuals can become pregnant under many different circumstances and some of these circumstances may be criminal and not with consent from both individuals.


This ruling comes down to the decision about whether or not banning abortions violates a woman’s right to privacy. The case is named Roe v. Wade, the “v” meaning “versus”, because it was between “Jane Roe”, a fictional name used to protect the identity of the plaintiff, Norma McCorvey, against Henry Wade, the district attorney of Dallas county, Texas, where Roe resided.   


Roe versus Wade.  


Roe v. Wade.


And in 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the favor of Roe that laws making abortions illegal violated the Fourteenth Amendment and a woman’s right to privacy.


On June 24, 2022, that decision was reversed or overturned. 



The case that set about the change came from Mississippi, where a Lower Court deemed a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy unconstitutional. The case, known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, was brought to the Supreme Court where its justices not only considered it constitutional, but used the case to open back up discussions on the constitutionality of Roe v. Wade.


A wave of newly active state laws went immediately into effect following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, impacting thousands of women and pregnant individuals across the country who had scheduled abortions and would now be breaking a state law if they continued with the procedure.


The Court’s decision does not outlaw abortions for the entire country, but it greatly restricts access to legal abortions performed by medical professionals. 


Further, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas argued, in an opinion he released following the ruling, that the Supreme Court “should reconsider” its past rulings codifying rights to contraception access, same-sex relationships, and same-sex marriage. 

These decisions affect you. 


They affect your family. 


They affect your friends and your teachers and employees at your grocery store and, really, just about every single person you encounter in your life. 


We are all here on this planet because someone chose to carry their pregnancy to full term and because that person had a successful birthing experience.


And as we begin to grow, we begin to understand and explore the world and its people and our relationships to everything and to each other. 


You are a whole person. And you are a person who is connected to others, through family and through shared experiences and through geography and through beliefs.


People will have opinions about what you do when you grow up. Or how you should act. Or what kinds of things you should make. Or how you should look or dress or talk or learn. 


But, ultimately, those decisions can only be made by you. And you may come to feel a certain way when others are trying to decide for you. Even if they think they know best, they are not you, and only you can ultimately decide what is best for you.


Not a friend. Not a company. And not even a government, much as we would like to think that everyone everywhere is looking out for our best interests.  



The decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was something that a great portion of our nation was hoping for and working toward for decades. 


But there were even more people, according to Gallup polls, who opposed overturning it.


You and I have only ever known a world where the outcome of Roe v. Wade exists. 


We are now stepping into a world post-Roe v. Wade, and that future is unclear to most. 





So here’s your homework.


Understand your rights and the rights of others in your state and nation. 


Do you agree with the laws that are in place? Do the laws seek to protect the rights of the people who live where you live?


Who do the laws affect most? And do the laws protect these individuals? Or do they make things more difficult for these individuals?


You don’t need to agree with every law in place, but it’s a good practice to understand why the law exists and who it’s seeking to protect. 


It’s our job to look out for everyone in our communities, even those with whom we disagree. You are a whole person, and so are they. You have a set of experiences, and so do they. And both are valid.


I’ll say that again.


Both sets of experiences are valid.


I’m Matthew. And this is Worth Noting.