Here are the Reasons the Supreme Court Overruled Roe vs. Wade

Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life
June 30, 2022

Last Friday, with exultation I yelled out in the hallway at the National Right to Life Convention, reading from the Supreme Court website, Roe and Casey are overruled!

And pro-life activists have been shouting with joy those same words all over the country!

So what are the reasons the Court gave in the Dobbs case for overruling Roe and Casey?

I summarize these reasons below, and will be explain them in more detail in our nightly Dobbs broadcasts on www.EndAbortion.TV and the platforms linked from there.

1. The nature of the Court’s error

Not all errors are created equal. Some are more damaging than others. The Court took note of the damage done by Roe and Casey not only by unleashing abortion, but by cutting off the ability of people to set policy on the matter through their elected representatives. This taints our democracy.

2. The quality of the reasoning

The Court said not only that Roe and Casey were wrong, but that the reasoning they used was exceptionally weak. Roe drew legislative lines (which Casey did not even support), and did not give any Constitutional justification for doing so. Casey then introduced a novel, subjective, and vague standard for evaluating pro-life laws (the “undue burden” standard), that did not have any more Constitutional basis than the detailed rules that Roe contained.

Moreover, the historical arguments in Roe are misdirected, erroneous, and have been subsequently debunked.

3. Workability

When a Court sets a standard for judging the constitutionality of a law, judges need to be able to understand that standard in objective terms.

However, Justices on the Supreme Court and judges in the lower courts have applied the “undue burden” in contradictory and inconsistent ways, because it is not defined and not objective.

For example, the Supreme Court Justices themselves applied it differently to partial-birth abortion in 2000, and then came to a different conclusion in 2007. The standard had one interpretation in the 2016 case on abortion clinic regulations and a different interpretation in a similar case just four years later.

In short, it has been a mess, and this has not contributed to a stable, consistent, or predictable development of the law.

4. Effect on other areas of law

For decades we have spoken about “the abortion distortion.” What it means in short is that when it comes to abortion, all the rules change.

The Court identifies various aspects of the law where this is the case. Take third-party standing, for instance. I can’t walk into court to plead a case that your rights have been harmed. The Court is going to ask, “Who are you?” and is going to say I don’t have “standing.” You would need to go to court yourself.

But an abortionist can go to court on behalf of his clients who are total strangers, and argue that they have a right to get an abortion.

5. No reliance interest

Finally, the Dobbs Court says, contrary to what Casey did in claiming that people have come to rely on abortion, that it is not the job or competence of the courts to evaluate such a thing, and that the courts have to stop substituting their own judgment on social or economic issues for those of the legislatures.

So, these are the five reasons, which the Dobbs decision itself develops in great detail, for reversing Roe and Casey.

Please be sure to watch our program tonight explaining all this, and catch the past episodes if you have missed them. Please also pass them along to others!

Past episodes of Breaking Down the Dobbs Decision: [Watch Part 1]; [Watch Part 2]; [Watch Part 3].  Also be sure to read the complete text of the decision in the Dobbs Case (PDF)

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