Legal Analysis: What Dobbs Got Wrong
The joint dissent in Dobbs begins to chart a path forward for a robust Fourteenth Amendment guarantee for the right to reproductive autonomy, including the right to abortion.
On June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed nearly 50 years of precedent and, for the first time, eliminated a right grounded in personal liberty: the right to abortion. Its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overruled Roe v. Wade and held that the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of liberty does not encompass an individual’s right to abortion.
This briefing paper by the Center for Reproductive Rights analyzes the majority, concurring, and dissenting opinions in Dobbs. It exposes the majority’s faulty reasoning and radical approach to constitutional interpretation used to overrule 50 years of precedent guaranteeing the right to abortion. It discusses Dobbs’s failure to consider the immediate and ongoing harm of denying millions the constitutional right to decide whether to be pregnant or give birth to a child. This paper also discusses how the ruling sets our country back decades and is out of step with human rights and global movement towards liberalization of abortion laws and policy.
But Dobbs is not the final word on the Constitution’s protection for the right to abortion. As the briefing paper sets out, the joint dissent catalogues the harms the majority ignores and begins to chart a path forward for a robust Fourteenth Amendment guarantee for the right to reproductive autonomy, including the right to abortion.