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Abortion Rights and Disability Equality: A New Constitutional Battleground


Allison M. Whelan and Michele Goodwin


October 16, 2022

Abortion rights and access are under siege in the United States. Even while current state-level attacks take on a newly aggressive scale and scope—emboldened by the United States Supreme Court’s June 2022 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey—the legal landscape emerging in the wake of Dobbs is decades in the making. In this Article, we analyze the pre- and post-Roe landscapes, explaining that after the Supreme Court recognized a right to abortion in Roe in 1973, anti-abortionists sought to dismantle that right, first thread by thread and now whole cloth. As we explain, these concerted efforts impose unique and uniquely burdensome harms on those living at the intersections of historically marginalized and vulnerable identities, including persons of color, low-income populations, persons with disabilities, and individuals in LGBTQ+ communities. This Article examines the deeply troubling—and now successful—efforts to dismantle Roe and the legal attacks on reproductive freedom. It foreshadows continuing legal efforts to gut abortion rights and new battlefronts related to disability justice and LGBTQ+ equality emerging from the same efforts. Focusing on persons with disabilities, this Article argues that the political movement to deny abortion rights will eviscerate gains made toward disability justice, as well as many other social justice gains such as LGBTQ+ equality.


Allison M. Whelan and Michele Goodwin, Abortion Rights and Disability Equality: A New Constitutional Battleground, 79 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 965 (2022).