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Expert: Abortion No Longer a Constitutional Right

In Post-Roe World, States Become Battleground for Many Protections

An American Flag flys outside the Capitol Building at twilight
The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that holds abortion is not a federally protected right means state legislatures will need to decide for themselves whether the practice will be allowed in their jurisdictions, according to legal scholar Morgan Marietta.

06/24/2022

Media contacts: Emily Gowdey-Backus, 978-934-3369, Emily_GowdeyBackus@uml.edu and Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944, Nancy_Cicco@uml.edu

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling today to ban abortion says the procedure is no longer a federally protected right under the Constitution, leaving it to state legislatures to decide for themselves whether to continue to allow the practice in their jurisdictions.

The ruling also means individual states can decide when, over the course of a pregnancy, “personhood” begins under the law, according to a UMass Lowell constitutional scholar available for interviews.

In the wake of today’s ruling, abortion is poised to become illegal in roughly half of the United States.

“This is a revolutionary ruling. Not just for abortion, but for how we understand the nature of rights under the Constitution,” said Morgan Marietta, a legal scholar who writes extensively on the Supreme Court’s decisions.

The 6-3 ruling differs little from a draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito on the case at hand, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, leaked to the public in May. It overturns a nearly 50-year precedent established by the Supreme Court’s previous decision in Roe v. Wade and legal precedent established by the high court stemming from a 1992 decision in a case known as Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

“With today’s decision – and the one the court issued Thursday on gun rights in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen – the court is saying any right not enumerated in the Bill of Rights should be left up to the states to decide,” Marietta said. “This is a major shift in the court’s thinking, as well as a dramatic shift of rights conflicts to local democracy. Social movements, campaigns, and elections, all at the state level, will be the battleground of American rights.” 

Marietta is available to discuss:

  • Today’s decision in full
  • he dissenting opinion
  • Other issues and legal decisions that could be impacted by today’s ruling

Marietta, an associate professor and the interim chair of UMass Lowell’s political science department, is the editor of an annual volume on the major decisions of the Supreme Court and is the author of several books on American politics, most recently, “One Nation, Two Realities: Dueling Facts in American Democracy,” from Oxford University Press. Along with constitutional law, Marietta’s research focuses on American politics and political psychology.

To arrange an interview with him via phone, email or Zoom (or another platform), contact Emily Gowdey-Backus at Emily_GowdeyBackus@uml.edu or Nancy Cicco at Nancy_Cicco@uml.edu.