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18 Ways the Supreme Court Just Changed America

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SCOTUSThe Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade will create two Americas when it comes to abortion access — the mostly red states where abortion is illegal in most circumstances, and the mostly blue states where it is mostly available with restrictions. But this sudden cleaving in the United States will go far beyond abortion access, affecting healthcare, the criminal legal system and politics, at all levels, in the coming years.

We can’t know exactly how all of this will change. But we asked a group of historians, legal scholars and women’s health experts what they think will happen to the abortion landscape in the United States, and how that will affect law, politics, healthcare and society. Some thought the reversal of Roe would soothe political polarization by taking abortion out of national politics. Others thought the exact opposite would happen: Abortion would become a front-burner political issue at all levels, pushing our already-extreme polarization to boil over. Still others thought the decision wouldn’t make much of a difference — because aren’t the states and the parties pretty much sorted already?

Contributors of all ideological stripes had reason for hope as well as reason for caution. One conservative was optimistic that Republicans would rise to the urgency and embrace a whole-life approach toward mothers and children; one liberal was optimistic that the Supreme Court would move to more fully protect abortion rights in the future.

The long-term outcome of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling is anything but clear right now. But hearing a range of thinkers’ best guesses at where we could go can give us insight into the visions of the country that anti-abortion and pro-abortion groups will be fighting for now that 50 years of Roe v. Wade are firmly behind us.

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