A Year of Dobbs: Anger, Heartbreak, Resistance and Resilience

Bearing witness to the devastating consequences of the Supreme Court decision—as well as the resistance and resilience of those who oppose it

I will never forget the overwhelming tide of anger, frustration and disbelief that washed over me when the Dobbs decision was announced on June 24, 2022. A year later, it’s safe to say those same feelings persist.

It is terribly surreal to witness the contradiction of a country that claims to stand for freedom and liberty, yet accepts the subjugation of women. Even though just 12 months have passed since the Dobbs decision, it seems as though we’ve been thrust back decades in time. The overturning of Roe v. Wade only cemented the fact that we, as a generation, now have fewer rights than the women who came before us—a frightening and unsettling truth.

Emboldened by the Court’s egregious ruling, numerous states have enacted extreme laws that criminalize abortion and severely restrict women’s freedoms. As it currently stands, 13 states have fully banned abortion with few (if any) exceptions. An additional 11 states have gestational limits ranging from six weeks, when most women do not even know they are pregnant, to 20 weeks.

There has also been a troubling rise in attacks against clinics that still provide abortion care in conservative states—a brave and dangerous feat by the staff at those clinics given our current political climate. It is laughably ironic that a group that purports to be “pro-life” devotes so much energy to spreading violence and brutality.

One year in, the disproportional effects of the Dobbs decision are impossible to ignore. Even under Roe v. Wade, abortion access was variable across the country, with Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws providing a reliable method for conservative states to make it difficult to get an abortion, especially if you were young, had low income or were a woman of color.

Research carried out post-Dobbs by the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit National Partnership for Women & Families found that nearly 57 percent of all Black women and 53 percent of women with disabilities live in states that have already banned or are likely to ban abortion. Past research has shown that restrictions to abortion access reduced college enrollment and completion for Black women. Dobbs will undoubtedly have a much worse effect, and considering that higher education is a major pathway toward economic security in this country, the intersectional inequities of Dobbs are that much more troubling.

It is laughably ironic that a group that purports to be ‘pro-life’ devotes so much energy to spreading violence and brutality.

Activists with the National Organization For Women at a vigil outside the U.S. Supreme Court on January 23, 2012, mark the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. (Brendan Hoffman / Getty Images)

Now for the silver lining: I would be doing a great disservice if I did not acknowledge the resistance and resilience that has swept through the country in the aftermath of Dobbs. The coordinated nationwide mobilization to protect the right to abortion and women’s equality speaks to the power of organizing.

  • Grassroots efforts managed to defeat harmful ballot measures in states like Kansas, where record numbers of women registered to vote shortly after the Supreme Court announced its decision. In August 2022, nearly 60 percent of Kansans voted down a referendum that would have eliminated state constitutional protections for abortion—a remarkable accomplishment in a red state.
  • In Michigan, activists banded together to obtain 750,000 signatures (a record number) to get an abortion-rights measure on the ballot in November 2022—a measure that passed with 56.7 percent of the vote.

The LGBTQ+ community has also put forth incredible efforts to combat the harmful effects of Dobbs. Abortion protection is incredibly vital to LGBTQ+ people. Statistics show that lesbian and bisexual women who become pregnant are more likely than heterosexual women to have an abortion. Some 36 percent of transgender people who have been pregnant have debated trying to abort their pregnancies on their own, “without clinical supervision,” according to the San Francisco nonprofit organization Legal Aid at Work. While attacks to gender-affirming care continue in conservative state legislatures, the hard work and dedication of LGBTQ+ groups has led 24 states to enact protections for the transgender community by banning transgender exclusions in healthcare coverage. California has even established itself as a safe haven for trans kids and families seeking gender-affirming care that is banned in their states.

While the disbelief at witnessing the rights of women being debated and rejected by the Court will always remain, I feel a sense of pride and empowerment in being part of a movement that refuses to back down in the face of injustice. Who knows where we will be a year from now in 2024—an election year. We will not grow complacent, and we will not stop pushing for our rights. That is a promise.

This story also appears in the Summer 2023 issue of Ms. magazine. Join the Ms. community today and you’ll get the Summer issue delivered straight to your mailbox!

Summer 2023 issue of Ms. magazine.

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U.S. democracy is at a dangerous inflection point—from the demise of abortion rights, to a lack of pay equity and parental leave, to skyrocketing maternal mortality, and attacks on trans health. Left unchecked, these crises will lead to wider gaps in political participation and representation. For 50 years, Ms. has been forging feminist journalism—reporting, rebelling and truth-telling from the front-lines, championing the Equal Rights Amendment, and centering the stories of those most impacted. With all that’s at stake for equality, we are redoubling our commitment for the next 50 years. In turn, we need your help, Support Ms. today with a donation—any amount that is meaningful to you. For as little as $5 each month, you’ll receive the print magazine along with our e-newsletters, action alerts, and invitations to Ms. Studios events and podcasts. We are grateful for your loyalty and ferocity.


Christian F. Nunes  became NOW president in August 2020. She was previously appointed vice president by the board in May 2019. She is the second African American president in the organization’s history, the youngest person of color, and the youngest president in more than 40 years.