Supreme Court could outlaw abortion once again

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Pro-choice activists rally to stop states’ abortion bans in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, DC. Photo by Rena Schild.

 “Abortion was legal under common law during the colonial era. ... 

 [Abortions were] done at home, by women themselves,” says Leslie Reagan, who teaches  Gender and Women's Studies at the University of Illinois. “Women taught each other ... mothers to daughters to sisters. … There were recipes and domestic health guide books.” 

She explains that the 1800s, abortion was thought of as “bringing your menses back,” But the procedure was outlawed from 1867 until the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade made it legal again in 1973.   

Since then, the court has allowed states to impose elaborate regulations that limit a woman’s right to choose, without overturning Roe v. Wade.

Now reviewing a case from Mississippi, the Supreme Court will only consider the issue of whether “all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional,” explains Dahlia Lithwick, Slate legal analyst and host of their “Amicus” podcast. That means Roe v. Wade may be overturned, despite Supreme Court precedent and public opinion polls.   

In another federal case, young people want the federal government held responsible for climate change. Julia Olson, Executive Director and Chief Legal Counsel for Our Children’s Trust says, federal subsidies, research and development “have given us our fossil fuel energy system. So this is not something that just happened by companies like Exxon and Chevron.” Can climate litigation shift the paradigm when it comes to government accountability in fighting climate change? Has it already done so in Germany?

 21 youth co-plaintiffs, Juliana versus United States.  Photo courtesy of Our Children’s Trust.



  • Leslie Reagan - Author; Professor of History, Medicine and Gender and Women’s Studies, University of Illinois.
  • Dahlia Lithwick - Author; Senior legal affairs correspondent, Slate; podcast host, Amicus podcast - @@Dahlialithwick
  • Julia Olsen - Executive directive director and chief legal counsel, Our Children’s Trust


Warren Olney


Andrea Brody