A Year After Dobbs: Rights Have Been Lost, Lives Have Been Threatened—But Feminists Persist

People gather to protest against the the Supreme Court’s decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case on June 24, 2022, in Raleigh, N.C. (Allison Joyce / Getty Images)

Exactly one year ago, the Supreme Court ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

It’s a sobering anniversary—not only did the Court take away rights U.S. women had relied on for 50 years, but the countless suffering we’ve seen in the past year that resulted from the ruling has been heartbreaking. We’ve seen clinics forced to close their doors in states across the U.S., leaving vast abortion deserts in their wake, and forcing patients to spend hundreds, even thousands, of dollars and travel thousands of miles to obtain abortions. We’ve seen women arrested, charged, and sued for using abortion pills. We’ve seen women denied abortions during medical emergencies, forcing them into life-threatening situations. And so much more. 

At the same time, support for abortion among Americans has increased and remains at an all-time high. Nearly 70 percent of Americans believe first-trimester abortions should be legal, per new polling from Gallup—the highest that number has been since Gallup began polling the issue in 1996. 

And yet, elected officials in Republican-dominated state legislatures continue to propose and pass bans that are clearly against the will of their constituents. Fortunately, advocates and voters aren’t standing by—in states like Kansas, Michigan and more, voters came out in full force to support abortion rights in last year’s election, striking down anti-abortion ballot measures and passing pro-abortion rights ones.

Nearly 70 percent of Americans believe first-trimester abortions should be legal—the highest that number has been since Gallup began polling the issue in 1996. 

And at the national level, Senate Democrats are putting forth legislation to protect women’s fundamental rights—including the Right to Contraception Act, the Freedom to Travel for Health Care Act, the Let Doctors Provide Reproductive Health Care Act, and the Upholding Protections for Health and Online Location Data (UPHOLD) Privacy Act. These acts would go a long way to help preserve the rights of abortion seekers and their care providers. 

A year after Dobbs, it would be easy to say that things have gotten worse, that the future looks bleak. But it doesn’t have to be. As NOW President Christian Nunes writes in the Summer issue of Ms., “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.”

We, too, can promise that we’ll keep reporting from the front lines of the battle to restore abortion rights and keep it accessible for all.

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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.


Katherine Spillar is the executive director of Feminist Majority Foundation and executive editor of Ms., where she oversees editorial content and the Ms. in the Classroom program.