The Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade

The Supreme Court released a decision Friday overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling which established a constitutional right to an abortion. There is no longer a constitutional right to an abortion in the United States.

The ruling, which came in the 2018 case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, No. 19-1392, was in alignment with the leaked draft majority opinion published by Politico in May.

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In the case, Mississippi’s sole abortion provider sued state officials after the Mississippi Legislature passed the Gestational Age Act, banning abortions after the first 15 weeks of pregnancy. After the lower courts ruled in favor of the abortion clinic, the state appealed the decision to the Supreme Court.

The overruling is the result of decades of Republican strategizing, which has left the Supreme Court with a 6-3 conservative majority, after former President Donald Trump appointed three conservative justices — Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

All three were key to the Dobbs decision, which was decided 5-4 in favor of overturning Roe. Those voting in the majority were Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the majority opinion, as well as Justices Clarence Thomas, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Coney Barrett. The court’s three liberal justices — Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan — wrote a joint dissent.

This decision comes after a recent poll conducted by researchers at Harvard University, Stanford University, and the University of Texas, found that less than 40% of Americans wished to see Roe v. Wade overturned.

According to Politico, three states, South Dakota, Louisiana and Kentucky will immediately ban most abortions, while other states with trigger laws will have to wait at least 30 days before abortion bans take effect. Of the 13 states with trigger laws, only five include exceptions for rape or incest.

What does the art world have to say about this momentous decision?

Women’s rights and abortion rights have long been central to artists, curators, and others in the art world, who have used their work, practice, and platform to speak on and advocate on those issues.

Artists like Nan Goldin, Barbra Kruger, the Guerilla Girls, and Laurie Simmons weighed in when the draft opinion was leaked this past May.

“It’s extra painful and shocking for my generation,” said Laurie Simmons, whose work focuses on gender roles, in a past interview with ARTnews. “We’ve been fighting the fight for so long. We remember the before times which weren’t pretty. The pushback is going to be fierce.”

Many of their works, along with others commenting on abortion rights, can be seen here.

Since the leak, artists and art world organizers have begun to plan to act both on the cultural and political sphere. The organizers of the landmark “Abortion is Normal” exhibition, which first took place in 2019, have hinted that the show may be restaged and revamped following the overruling.

Feminist visual artist Marilyn Minter, for her part, will be working to organize politically.

“This is a hard moment to process, although if you’ve been paying attention, you knew it was coming,” wrote artist Marilyn Minter in an op-ed for ARTnews following the leak of the Supreme Court decision in May.

“In order to combat these egregious attacks on our civil rights – and let’s be clear, this is only the beginning – we need to mobilize at the polls in November.”

Shortly after the decision came out on Friday, Minter tweeted “My body, MY VOTE” and “Abortion is HEALTHCARE!”

The organizers of Abortion Stories Festival, which held an arts-abortion festival this past May in collaboration with Cindy  Cindy Rucker Gallery, will be holding another abortion storytelling event in Union Square Park from 8-9:30 PM, tonight, Friday the 24th.


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