The Overturning of Roe vs. Wade and After Effects

Lauren Kostakis and Megan Mills, News Editor and Staff Writer

A month after the full abortion ban in the state of Missouri, a woman named Mylissa Farmer was in dire need of an abortion. She had a high-risk pregnancy that put her in peril of losing her uterus—and even her life. At 17 weeks, her water broke, and Farmer reported that it felt like she had a fetus “dying inside of her.” Farmer and her boyfriend were devastated to learn that it was not medically possible for their baby, who they had named Maeve, to reach viability. Although doctors advised that Farmer have an abortion to save her life, they were unable to give her the procedure due to the new state laws. After considering her limited options for abortion care, Farmer reached out to her state senator, Republican Bill White, for help. But she did not receive the assistance she was hoping for. Instead, a staffer from White’s office connected Farmer to a Missouri crisis pregnancy center, a Christian clinic that aims to dissuade people from having abortions’. Farmer eventually received the life-saving abortion she needed in another state. 

Recently, stories like Farmer’s have become increasingly common. 

In the 1973 landmark case of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruled that, inherent in the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, is a fundamental “right to privacy” that includes a U.S. citizen’s right to have an abortion. This past summer, after 50 years of precedent, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to overturn this decision. While the move has led to approval from some, it has led to outrage from others. 

In a poll conducted by CNN in May, 66% of Americans reported that they would not support the overturning of Roe v. Wade. And in a Hawk Talk survey of 216 Madison students, 90.9% reported that they did not support the Supreme Court’s July decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. 

“The overturning of Roe v. Wade was a punch in the gut for myself and many other young [assigned female at birth] people,” Knox Rodriguez (’25) said. “We do not deserve to have our right to control our own bodies taken away.” 

The decision to overturn Roe did not come as a surprise, given that a month earlier, a leaked draft opinion  revealed the Supreme Court’s intention to do so. In fact, some say the plan to overturn Roe has been in the works for over a decade. 

In 2016, advocates for Roe v. Wade became concerned that it could be overturned when Mitch McConnell (the Senate Majority Leader at the time) and other members of the Republican Party refused to meet with former President Obama’s Supreme Court Justice nominee, Judge Merrick Garland. Four years later, despite Republicans’ refusal to entertain the idea of Garland being confirmed to the Court during the final months of Obama’s presidency, the party contradicted themselves by confirming Justice Amy Coney Barrett during the final months of former President Trump’s term. Trump’s judicial appointments to the Supreme Court prior to the end of his term also raised critique from some. Many former presidents, including Trump, have appointed justices with ties to The Federalist Society, which, according to their website, is “a group of conservatives and libertarians dedicated to reforming the current legal order.” Six justices currently serving on the court—Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh, John Roberts, Neil Gorsuch, and Coney Barrett—also have connections to the Federalist Society. Many U.S. citizens worry these conservative justices are blurring the lines between church and state and bringing their personal and religious beliefs into court.  

As a result of Trump’s nominations, the more conservative Court has voted to take on more cases that involve religious debates. The decision to prohibit the ability to get an abortion has illuminated the recent trend of Christian favoritism in the Supreme Court. Abortion, more specifically the right to one, has long been a topic of concern for conservatives due to their religious beliefs. Unlike Christian scholars, amongst Jewish scholars there is an agreement that the banning of abortions conflicts with Jewish law and tradition. A synagogue in Florida used this argument against a Florida law planning to ban abortions after 15 weeks. Now, with the Court’s recent ruling on abortion being controlled by a conservative majority, justices whose votes do not align with those of the American public—being that 66% of Americans support abortion being legal (CNN)—are making the nation’s laws, causing many people to call into question the legitimacy of the Supreme Court in recent months. 

Another immediate effect of the overturning of Roe v. Wade was that it automatically gave individual states the right to determine whether abortion should be legal, and if so, in what instances. Some states already had “trigger laws” on the books in the event that Roe was overturned, but the timelines for when they’ll be implemented differ from state to state. The new state laws now range between full abortion bans with criminal penalties in red states, to abortion protections that benefit those seeking abortions such as state funding to clinics and legal protection in blue states. Across the nation, 14 states have banned abortions entirely through trigger laws, one state has banned abortion after six weeks and three states have banned abortion after 15 weeks. Additionally, at least 26 red states are moving towards a restrictive ban. Abortions are still protected in 22 states at this time; however, some legislators seek to change this. 

More recently, Senator Lindsey Graham (R) has introduced a bill with a 15-week national abortion ban. This bill would mean the end of abortion procedures after 15 weeks for any person living in the U.S., regardless of the state they live in. This would have a significant impact on pregnancies that contain fetal anomalies as well as high-risk pregnancies, both being complications that are usually detected at the 20-week scan. Under the new ban, 20 weeks would be too late to terminate the pregnancy. This policy would also affect the medical community; doctors would face the revocation of their licenses as well as jail time (up to life sentences) for performing abortions. Some Americans also now fear the potential for limitations on access to birth control, because it allows the prevention of pregnancy, and in vitro fertilization (IVF), as pregnant people may choose not to go through with using an IVF-fertilized egg.

While most Republicans supported the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the party seems to be divided on the issue of a national abortion ban, with many Republicans choosing not to support the near total ban in light of how their stance could impact the upcoming midterm elections. Many Republicans who supported the overturning of Roe v. Wade have chosen to take a less conservative stance on subsequent reproductive issues such as the national ban or the issue of fetal rights; their campaigns have also focused less on Roe while Democrats have been making it a primary campaign issue. Regardless of efforts by Republicans to pull focus away from Roe, the midterm elections could be largely impacted by the decision. States such as Kansas and Michigan have added abortion policies to the ballot, leading states to see a significant increase in voter registration, with the majority of newly registered voters being women.

For those living in the many states with full abortion bans, people will now have to travel out of state for access. Nearly seven million people across America have lost all access to safe abortion care. Despite the overturning of Roe v. Wade, abortions will continue to exist and be performed in significantly more dangerous ways.

“People are claiming that this is to ‘save lives’ and ‘protect children,’ but this will inevitably cause more death in pregnant people (from botched abortions and/or suicides), as well as in children being forced to give birth,” Elizabeth Rose (’26) said.

 People who live in states that don’t allow access to abortions may find unconventional and dangerous ways to get the procedures they want or need. This is especially true if they don’t have the resources to attempt to travel to a state that does allow abortions. While there is a legal and safe way to have at-home abortions (through FDA approved medication) this is only effective until 10 weeks into a pregnancy’s and the ban will make accessing this medication difficult. Prior to Roe v. Wade countless hospitalization cases have included patients with septic infections or perforated uteruses and were admitted to hospitals following attempts to induce a miscarriage in non-medically advisable ways. Removing access to abortions will increase the number of self-attempted abortions, as well as the number of abortions being performed in unsafe and non-sterile environments. This exposes the person recieving the abortion to harmful bacteria and diseases that could result in death.,

The overturning of Roe (and, if passed, the national ban) will most greatly affect marginalized communities. Accessing an abortion will be particularly difficult for people of color who already face a disproportionate number of obstacles, including limited access to the healthcare that allows them to obtain contraception, sexual health services and pregnancy preparation. Along with limited access to these vital resources, the American healthcare system has a long history of racism, especially targeted to the sexual and reproductive rights of people of color. An article published by Duke University Press estimates that a total abortion ban in the United States would increase pregnancy-related deaths by 21% among the general population, but would increase to 33% for people of color. Coupled with this, infant mortality rates are higher amongst people of color. With the federal right to an abortion now being revoked and many states deeming it unlawful, criminalization rates will rise amongst marginalized communities. Some states have put laws in place which allow for civil penalties starting at $10,000, criminalizing aiding and abetting of performing and inducing abortions. 


In Virginia, abortion is currently legal in all situations. This could change due to Governor Glenn Youngkin’s proposed 15-week ban with exceptions for rape, incest, and cases where the pregnant person’s life is in danger. 

“The Supreme Court’s decision, I agree with — that this is a decision for states to make by elected officials, by the citizens of Virginia,” Youngkin said on the CBS program Face the Nation. “And that’s why, right out of the box, I called for a 15-week pain threshold bill to be formed and crafted by a bipartisan group of legislators.”

If Youngkin were to successfully pass his proposed ban, many teenagers and young adults would oppose it because they feel that it is inequitable and unjust. When the Supreme Court’s decision leaked in May of 2022, many Americans, particularly in the younger generations, expressed anger towards the Supreme Court, as well as fear of what this could mean for the American people. 

I think that, as a health teacher, my experience is that a majority of students are pro-choice, and so the overturning of Roe v. Wade, I think, will affect them significantly if the state of Virginia then choses to make abortion illegal,” Madison health teacher Beth Gottschalk said.

A number of Madison students share this sentiment and have spoken out against the court’s decision, including members of Project Rose, a student-run club at Madison were students can learn about their reproductive rights and also about opportunities for voicing their opposition to restrictions on abortion access. Recently, they have focused their discussions on the repercussions of the court’s decision to overturn Roe, but they have also attended protests as a group.

  “The atmosphere of any Women’s March is something everyone should try to experience at least once in their life,” Kayla Mathis (‘25), President of Project Rose, said. “The energy is truly contagious, and everyone is there for the same reason; to stand up for women when our representatives don’t.” 

In regard to the future, on Tuesday Oct. 18, President Biden implored Americans to vote for democratic candidates, stating that the first bill he would send to Congress would be to “codify Roe v. Wade.” Codifying Roe would mean the right to abortion would be protected under federal law and would allow the American public to make their own decisions regarding reproductive rights. 

  “When Roe V. Wade was overturned I was in disbelief,” Avery Griepentrog (’24) said. “I was also disappointed that we regressed back in time. The Supreme Court took away essential women’s rights. By taking away this historical court case, the court is attempting to silence women who have now lost a say in what they can do with their body. I was also sad for the millions of women before me who fought so hard and faced so much adversity to establish Roe v. Wade and make sure every woman had a choice, only for it to be taken away.”