Mona Alrazzaq, Alisha Alam, Koyena De, Amelia Dolly, and Daniel Kibler
Vol. IV, No. 4
History of Abortion
Abortion has long been a controversial topic that yields polarizing views, depending on individual ideology. Based on the precedent set in the Supreme Court’s seminal 1973 abortion case, Roe v. Wade, abortion is protected under the Due Process Clause in the Fourteenth Amendment. This right still has to be balanced with governmental interest. Therefore, the Court crafted a standard based on the trimester system to regulate abortion. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Court affirmed the precedent from Roe v. Wade, but disregarded the trimester system and created a new viability standard, one which considers undue burden on a woman to obtain an abortion, while considering the timeline in which the fetus gains viability.
The precedents above are the main historical elements that have greatly influenced the landscape of abortion in the United States. Roe v. Wade’s rationale under the Due Process Clause has given a legal justification for abortion, whereas the standard established by Planned Parenthood v. Casey provides a framework with which states may legally regulate, based on fetus viability. Providing an in-depth explanation of these landmark cases and their precedents will give readers the context needed to make sense of current legal proceedings pertaining to abortion.
Roe v. Wade
A person’s right to privacy is inherent to the Due Process Clause, as established in Griswold v. Connecticut, regardless of the lack of explicit verbiage in the Constitution. The Fourteenth Amendment “establishes the right to due process” for a person. Roe v. Wade is a landmark Supreme Court case in which a pregnant single woman, Roe, “brought a class action challenging the constitutionality of the Texas criminal abortion laws.” These challenged abortion laws outlawed abortions unless they were medically neccesary or were simply undertaken to save the woman’s life. The Court ruled that the Texas abortion statutes as they stood were unconstitutional. Specifically, the Texas abortion laws represented “a state criminal abortion statute…that excepts from criminality only a lifesaving procedure on behalf of the mother, without regard to pregnancy stage and without recognition of the other interests involved, is violative of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
According to the Court, “abortion was within the scope of the personal liberty guaranteed by the Due Process Clause. In a 7-2 ruling, the Court held that this right to privacy has to be balanced with state interest in protecting the “potentiality of human life.”
As a result of this, the Court established the trimester system that discusses the time frame in which women can obtain abortions. Before the first trimester, the state may not regulate decisions. It is up to the woman and her physician to decide. After the first trimester, the state may impose “regulation reasonably related to maternal health.” However, the state may not completely ban abortion. Following this stage (once a fetus reaches “viability”) the state may regulate as they wish or decide to ban them completely. Laws have to accommodate for when an abortion is necessary to save the life of the mother.
Planned Parenthood v. Casey
The law being called into question in this case was the The Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act of 1982. One of the statutes required that a person intending to get an abortion “give her informed consent prior to the procedure” and “specifies that she be provided with certain information at least 24 hours before the abortion is performed.” The other statute required the “the informed consent of one parent for a minor to obtain an abortion.” In addition, this statute gave citizens “a judicial bypass procedure” which ordered that a “married woman seeking an abortion must sign a statement indicating that she has notified her husband.” That statement would have had to list a “medical emergency” that would explain why she didn’t meet the other requirements. Other statutes imposed certain reporting requirements for clinics and other places that performed abortions.
However, before any of these provisions were able to be implemented, the petitioners (five abortion clinics, a physician representing himself, and a class of doctors who provided abortion services) brought upon the suit in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. This class action suit claimed that the provisions were unconstitutional and violated a citizen’s right to due process as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.
The Court’s ruling imposed a new standard which asks if regulation imposes undue burden on women’s choice to obtain an abortion rather than the trimester framework outlined in Roe v. Wade. This change was intended to both “protect the central right recognized by Roe v. Wade” while simultaneously employing the “undue burden analysis.” According to the Court, an undue burden is present (which makes a law or statute invalid) if “its purpose or effect is to place a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus attains viability.” To decide when a law “imposes an undue burden on the woman’s decision before fetal viability,” it is necessary to assess whether “a law designed to further the State’s interest in fetal life which imposes an undue burden on the woman’s decision before fetal viability could be constitutional.” The standard established in Planned Parenthood v. Casey is currently utilized when considering the constitutionality of burdens on abortion.
The safety and strong standing of the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade as well as the foreground of abortion rights nationally are being threatened by new legislation passed at the state level. Statutes such as Texas’s Senate Bill 8 and Mississippi’s House Bill 1510, “The Gestation Age Act,” threaten the foundation of Roe v. Wade and diminish the accessibility of abortions to all constituents of said state, while also compromising the legality of abortion at the national level. Examining abortion-related legislation and policies allows for an understanding of the modern status of reproductive rights, as well as insight into how this may change in the future. Moreover, understanding the status of abortion legislation allows for exploration into the severity of the threat to reproductive rights on both local and national levels.
To gain a complete understanding of the controversy surrounding abortion, it is crucial to consider all individuals impacted by the legislation being debated and passed. The current legislation pertains to persons with a uterus that can carry new life. This consists of women and individuals born with a uterus, who may identify as otherwise.
Jules Gill-Peterson, while commenting on the stream of statutes passed in Texas, states that the laws “are really restrictive infringements on bodily autonomy, on individual rights and the state taking an aggressive, moralizing police role.” As access to reproductive healthcare continues to become more restrictive, members of the LGBTQ+ community, such as transgender men, are equally as impacted by the new anti-abortion laws as cis-gendered women are. The lack of inclusivity in abortion policies not only impacts the LGBTQ+ community, but also individuals who may be survivors of rape or incest.
These extreme cases and circumstances are not addressed in the new legislation. When commenting on the new Texas law, Ashley Lopez articulates that “notably, the law also makes no exceptions for people who are victims of rape or incest. Social workers in Texas say that’s causing serious harm to sexual assault survivors in the state.” The new anti-abortion laws fail to address the mental and physical repercussions pregnancy may have on survivors of sexual assault and incest, as well as women and persons with a uterus.
Additionally, this legislation ignores the relationship between abortion bans and “at-home” abortions, which are less safe and tend to increase when bans are implemented. Since the establishment of Roe v. Wade in 1973, the number of illegal and “at-home” abortions that took place decreased as women were provided with a safe way to terminate a pregnancy if desired. There has been “an estimated 62 million abortions…since [the] Roe v. Wade decision in 1973” conducted safely.
As in healthcare spaces across the board, minorities and marginalized populations tend to be disproportionately affected. Women of lower socioeconomic status and women of color in the United States have higher rates of abortion than women of higher socioeconomic status and white women. Understanding the systemic nature of these disparities and their relationship to health outcomes provides essential context for the consideration of disparities in abortion rates. These disparities are related to systemic hardships experienced by disadvantaged communities, including decreased access to health care, higher levels of stress, and exposure to racial discrimination.
Efforts to restrict abortion will have no effect on these underlying factors, and instead will only result in more women experiencing later abortions or having an unintended childbirth. These abortion restrictions are thus likely to result in worsening health disparities, discrimination, and poorer living and working conditions. By contrast, a multifaceted approach that includes prevention of unintended pregnancy and management of unintended pregnancies when they occur, including increasing access to safe abortion care, would be expected to improve reproductive and maternal health outcomes by addressing disparities in a more comprehensive manner.
Black, Indigenous, and POC Communities
In 2008, the abortion rate for non-Hispanic white women was 12 abortions per 1000 reproductive-age women, compared with 29 per 1000 for Hispanic women, and 40 per 1000 for non-Hispanic Black women. By race/ethnicity, 70% of all pregnancies among Black women and 57% among Hispanic women were unintended, compared with 42% among white women. Significant racial/ethnic disparities exist in this outcome as well, with a rate of 44 pregnancies per 1000 females between ages 15 and 19 among non-Hispanic whites, 124 per 1000 among non-Hispanic Blacks, and 129 per 1000 among Hispanics. One survey study found that approximately two thirds of Black women reported having experienced race-based discrimination when receiving family planning care.
Disparities in abortion rates also exist by socioeconomic status. A study found that women with incomes less than 100% of the federal poverty level have an abortion rate of 52 abortions per 1000 reproductive-age women, compared with a rate of 9 per 1000 among those with incomes greater than 200% of the federal poverty level. Studies have also found higher sexual risk for young people living in neighborhoods where there are higher levels of poverty, idle youths, and social disorganization, and lower proportions of working women and lack of economic and educational opportunities.
Although these approaches are likely to have some effect, we note that they do not address the issues of structural poverty, racism, and lack of opportunity that underlie disparities in contraceptive use and unintended pregnancy. Differences in neighborhood environments, discrimination in health care and other settings, and stratified educational and employment opportunities all reflect social and economic realities in the United States that are not addressed by these incremental approaches.
With regard to unintended pregnancy, another important consideration is the rate of adolescent pregnancy, of which more than 80% are unintended. In addition, age of initiation of sexual activity is itself a risk factor for adolescent pregnancy. Though recent data show that adolescents are delaying the initiation of sexual activity, the proportion of adolescents who engage in sexual intercourse varies by race/ethnicity and by SES. The most striking disparities in contraception use are between women at high risk of unintended pregnancy and women at low risk, with the former group tending to report using no contraceptive method. In the most recent National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), which includes data from 2006 to 2010, 17.2% of Black women and 10.4% of Hispanic women at risk for unintended pregnancy were using no contraceptive method, compared with 9.5% of non-Hispanic white women. Additional barriers to contraceptive use that can be addressed include gaps in knowledge about contraceptive methods and concerns about safety, especially among women of color. Improving contraceptive counseling is one strategy to accomplish this goal; further research is needed on ways to assist women in making informed decisions about their contraceptive use.
Religious & Cultural Influence
Differences in abortion attitudes stemmed from varying beliefs on when life begins and circumstances in which abortion may be morally acceptable. Studies have shown that religion is strongly associated with opposition to abortion in the US. Studies indicate that religious conservatives are more likely to disapprove of abortion, particularly when household financial constraints or out-of-wedlock pregnancy is the reason abortion is sought out.
Looking Toward the Future
As of now, the ball is in the court of the pro-abortion side. Roe v. Wade protects abortion rights, and if nothing was to change, that would be the law of the land ad infinitum. However, the culture war has opened up the possibility for political change in this sector. Since the 1990s, more conservative blocs in American society (white Americans, Evangelical Protestants, conservative-leaning Catholics, etc.) have been in a struggle with the liberal blocs in American society (college-educated individuals, minorities, etc.) to mold the culture of the nation in their image. This culture war powerfully affects the abortion debate and has made it a central political issue in the United States. Since at least the end of the Cold War, the issue of abortion has arguably been the crown jewel of both conservatism and liberalism. Conservatives see the end of abortion in America as the returning of America to a more moral, traditional past, while liberals see the solidification of abortion rights across America as the foundation for true equality between men and women, and liberation from a natural barrier of pregnancy. In the recent chapter of the American culture war, there have been two challenges to the precedent of abortion law. One of those challenges came in Jackson v. Women’s Health Clinic. This law is a direct challenge to the abortion precedent in America, and both have the opportunity to set the ball back into the conservative right’s court. It is then imperative that one begins to think about the possible imminent future of abortion, and the possibilities that could present themselves if Roe v. Wade is either overturned completely or modified.
In abortion law, understanding what can be banned, regulated, or protected depends much on the viability of the fetus. Naturally, as humanity’s understanding of medical science has evolved, this concept tends to be loosely defined. Roe v. Wade originally held that states could not interfere with a woman’s right to an abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy, could regulate (but not outlaw) abortions during the second trimester, and could do what they wanted after the second trimester. In the previously discussed case involving a minor needing consent to recieve an abortion (Planned Parenthood v. Casey), the court held this to still be relevant in 1992, at about roughly “23-24 weeks” (LOC, pg. 680). This had been the general rule that states abided by for a while, but many conservative-leaning states have been attempting to get past this.
One of those states is the state of Mississippi, which passed a law that banned abortions after the 15-week mark. In March of 2018, the Mississippi Legislature found that abortions after the 15-week mark are a “barbaric practice, dangerous for the maternal parent, and demeaning to the medical profession” (Miss. House Bill 1510). This law, now known as the Gestational Age Act, was signed into law in May of 2018. Naturally, given this was a direct challenge to the 1992 finding in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the only abortion provider in Mississippi––the Women’s Health Organization in Jackson––was promptly sued. However, the State of Mississippi argues that the viability test is wrong, and that the Court should throw it out and let the law stand (Bloomberg). The Fifth Circuit Court based out of New Orleans struck the law down based on Casey precedent, but the Supreme Court decided to hear the case (SCOTUSBlog) and listen to Mississippi’s argument against abortion.
The implications of this law are quite grand, given that the Supreme Court even agreed to hear the case in the first place, which means they may intend to change things. However, what they change is still up for debate. The Court currently has a 6-3 conservative-liberal breakdown, so a conservative decision should be expected. Still, what that decision would explicitly call for appears to be up for debate. According to one blogger for SCOTUSBlog, there appears to be three camps in the Supreme Court over this case. The liberal justices (Kagan, Sotomayer, and Breyer) are very much in favor of upholding the 5th Circuit Court’s decision. The liberal court sees this entire case as a political act, and they stress very much that the court should not play politics as much as possible. This was echoed by liberal justice Sotomayer, who asked, “Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception – that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?” referencing the fact that Mississippi legislature members made this bill in response to the shift in Supreme Court membership. This was a sentiment shared by Breyer and Kagan, who specified that such a ruling could subvert the court’s legitimacy. Kagan specifically warned of a potential conservative push to change constitutional law, stating that such a radical change to the Constitution should come only when “strong justification” is met, and nothing much has changed in the field of abortion law since Roe or Casey, other than women becoming more dependent on their existence. The conservative side was much more keen to argue in favor of holding the law, but exactly how is a split question amongst the conservatives. On one side is the more hardline stance of conservative stalwart Brett Kavanaugh. He favors overturning both Casey and Roe, as do his associates Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas. This camp explained their reasoning on December 1, 2021, during the first arguments of this case. In the Supreme Court blog, it is reported that Kavanaugh argued that constitutional law, even very consequential constitutional law, has never been set in stone, referencing Brown v. Board of Education (no more segregated schools) and Baker v. Carr (one person, one vote) as times when the Supreme Court overruled previous constitutional rulings and announced new constitutional law. Kavanaugh then went on to explain how the constitution never explicitly states anything even close to abortion being a federal power to mandate, and that if one was to see Roe or Casey as unconstitutional, they should remain completely neutral on the question of abortion and overrule Roe. This is in contrast to the camp led by Chief Justice John Roberts, who focuses primarily on the viability issue. It is key to remember that when Roberts struck down a Louisiana law in 2020, he noted that the papers of Harry Blackmun (the justice who wrote the Roe v. Wade decision) described the reference to viability as “dicta”, or an incidental remark, and therefore should not be seen as precedent. Roberts went on to describe how 15 weeks is plenty of time for a woman to decide what to do with her pregnancy, and there was really no real argument as to why 15 weeks is a bad time. He then went on to explain that if the case was just about a choice, then there was no real reason for 15 weeks not being enough time to make that choice. As for the remaining two conservative justices, Amy Coney Barrett and Neil Gorsuch, they did not seem to be explicitly for overturning Roe or Casey in the court arguments proper. Nevertheless, it is key to notice that former President Donald Trump promised to put justices in power that would overturn Roe v. Wade as a candidate, though this could have just been a play at his base to garner support in the election. As the Court argues about the future of American abortion law, it is key to understand exactly why the Court is ruling against abortion, and the sort of partisan decision-making that it entails.
The politicization of the Supreme Court has been something that has always seemed, paradoxically, both a disdainful evil and a force for good. Both sides claim that when the other uses the court for their political gain, it is “disturbing the non-partisan nature of the court.” However, when they use it for their own side, they often claim the justices are simply interpreting the Constitution the way it ought to be interpreted. There are many ways that one can turn the Supreme Court into not just a reviewing board, but a political weapon. One early example is Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937. This highly controversial bill would have amended the powers of the President, allowing him to appoint a new Supreme Court Justice every time a justice reached the age of 70 and refused to step down from the court (Constitution Center). This was to counteract the more conservative justices that were taking offense to the very progressive (and in their opinion, overreaching) laws being passed that were a part of FDR’s “New Deal” in the 1930s. FDR was vehement that this bill would get passed, even giving one of his famed “fireside chats” as his argument to the nation on March 9th, 1937. However, the perceived threat to the Court’s nature and executive overreach eventually caused the bill to die in the Senate. The fear of the rest of the legislature’s or executive’s tentacles reaching into the halls of the Court was too much to bear for the nation at the time. However, the politicization of the court has become increasingly more discussed as a plausible way to achieve goals, especially as the culture war heats up.
As the Court traverses the field of modern politics, partisanship has threatened confidence in the institution itself. While it is difficult to pinpoint the beginning of this process, one large incident was the Bush v. Gore ruling. During the 2000 election, the vote in Florida (which ended up being the deciding electoral college votes) was so razor-thin that a recount was ordered. Discrepancies in recounting procedure as well as time constraints for the meeting of the Electoral College led the court to strike down a recount ordered by the Florida Supreme Court that could have possibly swayed the election (Bush v. Gore text). Considering the massive implications of the Court essentially determining who got to be president from 2000-2004, this decision shook the legal world. During Bush v. Gore, the five justices that formed a conservative majority on the court ruled in favor of the conservative Republican candidate, George W. Bush. This was a highly controversial move by the court which, in many legal experts’ eyes, diminished public trust in the institution to not be political (Yale Law Journal). However, it can just as easily be argued that this showed a break in the Court’s mystical aura, a path for ambitious politicians to reform the nation in their image. As the culture war intensified, both sides saw the Supreme Court as their ticket to out-maneuver the other. The Republican-led Senate’s refusal to conduct Merrick Garland’s appointment hearings after Antonin Scalia’s death in 2016, the Brett Kavanaugh controversy, and very recently the Ketanji Brown-Jackson hearings show that both sides are ready to weaponize the court. The judges themselves can feel it as well, as Justice Breyer, before his retirement announcement, told Democratic politicians to “think long and hard” about a ploy to pack the court in response to the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett. The court can feel the pressure building as the nation divides; but what does that mean for abortion?
Abortion is an interesting legal issue because, like the Prohibition movement of the early 20th century, the anti-abortion movement is a push by a very vocal cultural bloc to get rid of a “societal evil”. The issue, similarly to the issue of alcohol in the 20th century, is very much a dividing factor, and trying to get rid of it brings up legal questions of privacy between two consenting parties, which is something that the Court only occasionally interferes with, given the right to privacy argued in the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. This hearkens back to the “strong justification” issue that Justice Kagan brought up in the hearings for Jackson v. Women’s Health Organization. She reasoned that nothing really warrants an issue like abortion being rolled back; other issues where the Court took a similar constitutional law-altering stance had a strong justification for doing so, and women in America have become accustomed to federal abortion protections (SCOTUSBlog). This then leaves one to wonder about just how much of a landmark case Jackson v. Women’s Health Organization could truly become, beyond simply getting the federal government out of the state’s right to ban abortion. Given that many Americans view abortion as a fundamental right, this case could mark a turning point in the culture war. The fiery protection of a woman’s federally protected abortion access seen all over social media and in protests signifies that this case is salient enough to be the red line. Given that the Democrats control both Congress and the presidency, they could view modifying the Supreme Court as necessary to preserving their ideal America, in the face of a conservative ruling that challenges their worldview. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, as many suspect it is about to be, it could be the beginning of a higher stakes power struggle in the federal government that sees the Court as fair game. However, with all this speculation, it is important to remember what Roe v. Wade overturned actually means, and how both sides have been preparing for this possible eventuality.
Contrary to what some alarmist media suggests, the potential overturning of Roe v. Wade does not mean the banning of abortion nationwide. All the overturning of Roe v. Wade does is remove abortion’s status as a federally protected right. The Tenth Amendment outlines America’s federalist system, in which certain rights are guaranteed to the federal government and some rights are guaranteed to the states to regulate. If Roe gets overturned, then the right to get an abortion would become a state issue entirely. America is a diverse country with many different states that have populations that view abortion differently, so what state legislatures do about this possible update to the laws will naturally vary.
Some states have been preparing for the possibility that Roe v. Wade gets overturned, as they have pre-written laws that would be introduced (and likely passed) in their state legislatures, in the case that the federal government drops its abortion protections. These “trigger laws”, as they are known, consist of pre-written laws banning abortion before Roe v. Wade, or laws that attempted to get around Roe v. Wade but got caught in the judicial bureaucracy of lawsuits and appeals. Many of these laws seem to be directed by the arguments in the Supreme Court, as a recently passed Kentucky law (which was promptly blocked by the Kentucky Supreme Court and added to the long list of these null trigger laws), would ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. This shows an anticipation of what Chief Justice John Roberts was arguing, as these states feel that Jackson v. Women’s Health Clinic will end up being ruled by his decision. There are 21 other states that have one of these “trigger laws”, ranging from swing states like Wisconsin and Michigan to deeply conservative states like Alabama and Wyoming (Gutherhall Institute). If Roe is gone, upwards of 50 million people would possibly have to leave their home states in order to receive an abortion, barring other restrictions. However, those looking for abortions in a state where they are banned may just have to cross state lines, as many states like California and the District of Columbia have laws that specifically permit abortion. Many progressive governors are going a step further, as Gavin Newsom, the Governor of California, signed California Senate Bill 245, which would eliminate out-of-pocket costs for abortion healthcare (gov.ca.gov). If Roe was overturned, many people would flock to these “abortion havens” to get abortion care. This option would, of course, be less accessible for poorer women, especially those who come from minority communities. In a state like Texas, a poor woman who lives in the Rio Grande River Valley and wants to get an abortion may have to travel upwards of 12 hours and spend hundreds of dollars just to receive healthcare. Of course, the possibility remains that some people in states like Texas could have access to abortion healthcare for free in other states, and would only need to travel there to receive it. However, a recent Texas law could complicate this, as the unorthodox framing of the law could make traveling alone more difficult.
The Texas Heartbeat Bill, also known as Senate Bill 8, is a bill that has been headlining national news since it was enacted in May of 2021. The bill bans abortion after 6 weeks, when a fetal heartbeat can be detected. This bill is unique due to its proposed enforcement. SB 8 outlines no prosecution that the state is to partake in, in the event that the law is broken. It does, however, have a “civil liability” section, that states that the “punishment” for breaking the law would not be state prosecution, but rather making violators liable to get sued by some third party and potentially having to “pay statutory damages in an amount of not less than $10,000 for each abortion” (Texas Senate Bill 8). It seems likely that the Texas state legislature anticipates third-party activist groups to, in a sense, enforce the law for them. It is in this way that the law seeks to step past Roe v. Wade, and if Roe was to be overturned (or if the Supreme Court allowed SB 8 to stand, at that), laws like this could become the blueprint for anti-abortion legislation across the nation.
However, it gets even more interesting when one discovers exactly who the law holds liable. Clause 2 of the Civil Liability section of SB 8 states that anyone who “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion, including paying for or reimbursing the costs of an abortion through insurance or otherwise” would also be liable. Therefore, not only could a woman on a bus to get an abortion in Texas be held legally accountable under Texas state law, but the bus company, as well as whoever dropped her off at the bus station, could theoretically also be held legally accountable and forced to pay the $10,000 fine through a civil suit. This provision may alienate a lot of women looking to receive an abortion who cannot get themselves out of the state, leading to some manner of discrimination. (Supposing the women who would need this type of help would already be disadvantaged, a bad situation becomes a lot worse.) Additionally, it could incentivize companies like Uber, Lyft, or even bus companies like Greyhound to take restrictive actions against women looking for abortions. Altogether, when looking at a law like the Texas Heartbeat Bill, one can see how simply changing the way it is enforced could work just as well as a state-enforced mandate. This law also leaves some unanswered questions. Could this law be extended to ban people from receiving abortion medicine from out of state (in pill form, for example)? Could a company like Amazon be held financially responsible? Could SB 8 theoretically be extended to those trying to leave the state as well? As the situation unfolds, and the future of Roe v. Wade is decided, these questions will be the ones which, when answered, will define the terms of healthcare access for tens of millions of women nationwide.
The war for American culture has never been more hotly contested, and the issue of abortion is one of its main battlefields. The Court seems poised to act against the long standing legal tradition of Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood. As rulings are handed down, given the emotion and value both sides put on the issue of abortion, the United States could grow even more divided. An overturn of Roe v. Wade sets not necessarily a legal precedent, but a political precedent of one side taking control of a government institution and overturning a ruling they saw as degrading to American culture. In the context of the culture war, overturning Roe and making abortion rights a states issue once more will undoubtedly bring political polarization to a boiling point. The liberal defenders of abortion rights have signaled that overturning Roe v. Wade is the red line to a woman’s choice of healthcare, and the conservative side sees an overturn of Roe v. Wade as the holy grail of conservative activism. The United States, since the beginning of the culture war in the 80s and 90s, has seen a decentralization of culture. American culture is becoming much more regional, with many deep red areas of the nation looking more like foreign nations to coastal city residents. Returning abortion rights decision-making power to the states has the potential to either ignite flames of hatred from one side to another as women nationwide lose their choice of healthcare or, conversely, simply adjust state laws to reflect regional preferences. However, the borders of this war are undefined, and many people just wanting to live their lives will inevitably get caught up in the legal chaos that an overturn of Roe v. Wade would inevitably cause. It is therefore important to remember that through chaos eventually comes a desire for order, and hopefully that order will bring what is truly just and fair to all Americans.