Abortion rights in the Supreme Court are ‘in grave jeopardy’

Serena Mayeri, a professor of law and history, argues that the Texas abortion law SB8 has already had devastating short- and long-term consequences, with dire effects on reproductive justice in this country.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in two cases related to Texas abortion law SB8, which effectively prohibits abortions starting around the sixth week of pregnancy. SB8 gives enforcement power to private individuals, including those who do not live in Texas, to bring a lawsuit in state court against anyone who performs or “abets” an abortion in Texas and to receive $10,000 in damages.

Crowd of people in front of U.S. Supreme Court, several hold a large sign that reads Repro Freedom For All!
Pro-choice crowds take part in rallies at the Supreme Court while it hears arguments on the Texas abortion ban on Nov. 1, 2021. (Image: Allison Bailey/AP Images)

Serena Mayeri, a Penn Law professor of law and history, explores the direct threat to abortion rights on the Court’s docket: Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in which Mississippi has asked the Court to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the precedents that currently place limits on states’ ability to ban pre-viability abortions. Mayeri co-authored an amicus brief in Dobbs.

“SB8 has already had devastating short- and long-term consequences,” Mayeri says. “Many if not most people don’t know they are pregnant in time to obtain an abortion before six weeks. They are therefore forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term if they do not have the means or wherewithal to take time off from work, travel out-of-state, and comply with all of the waiting periods and other obstacles that many surrounding states place in the way of abortion care.”

As for the long-term consequences, they include “the exacerbation of already grim economic and health prospects for low-income people and people of color, not to mention deprivation of the basic human right to decide whether, when, and under what conditions to bear and raise children,” she says. “Even when restrictive abortion laws remain in effect only temporarily, reproductive health care providers also suffer lasting consequences, including permanent closure.”

Read more at Penn Law News.