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Abortion Rights Post-Dobbs

July 27, 2022

At Penn Today, Prof. Dorothy Roberts discussed what the Dobbs decision means for abortion rights across the U.S.

Dorothy E. Roberts, George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology and the Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights, recently spoke to Penn Today about the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and what it means for abortion rights across the country.

From Penn Today:

Dorothy Roberts knew this day would come. Every time a case involving abortion would go before the Supreme Court, the legal scholar would be asked for her opinions on a post-Roe world. In January, Roberts was also asked to speak in conversation with Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood, for the 21st annual Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture in Social Justice, where they discussed the intersectionality of racism and bodily autonomy.

Four months later, the Supreme Court majority opinion was leaked, indicating that Roe v. Wade, upheld since 1973, would soon fall.

On June 24, 2022, it did. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization reversed Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, holding that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion. Trigger laws ensued in multiple states, making abortion access immediately more complicated.

“Even though it’s still shocking to read the decision, it’s not surprising because the Court and states have been whittling away at the right to abortion for so long,” Roberts says.

Penn Today sat down with Roberts to discuss the foreshadowing and the implications of the Dobbs decision… . 

Roberts, an acclaimed scholar of race, gender, and the law, recently published Torn Apart: How the Child Welfare System Destroys Black Families — And How Abolition Can Build a Safer World​ (Basic Books, 2022). She is also the founding director of the Penn Program on Race, Science & Society in the Center for Africana Studies and her other books include Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century (New Press, 2011); Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare (Basic Books, 2002), and Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty (Pantheon, 1997). She also recently penned “Race,” a chapter in The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story, focusing on race as a political construct and the historical regulation of Black women’s bodies.

Roberts joined the University of Pennsylvania as its 14th Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor with joint appointments in the Departments of Africana Studies and Sociology and the Law School. She is the author of more than 100 scholarly articles and book chapters as well as a co-editor of six books on topics such as constitutional law and women and the law.

Read Roberts’ full interview at Penn Today.