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The Future of Population Health
Paula M. Lantz
Michelle H. Moniz
William G. Axinn
Feb 27, 2024
Jan 22, 2024
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On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued a historic decision in the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization case1 overturning previous court rulings regarding privacy rights and abortion, including the Roe v Wade decision of 1973.2 The Dobbs decision reversed a nearly 50-year precedent of constitutionally protected federal access to abortion nationwide, relegating its legal oversight back to individual states and territories. In the absence of a constitutionally protected right to abortion care, states are now free to set strict legal parameters around access to abortion.3
It is predicted that at least one-half of US states will either fully ban or severely restrict access to and provision of induced abortion, with 13 states already operating under “trigger laws” that were not struck down after Roe v Wade took effect.4 At this time, the full impact of the 2022 SCOTUS decision remains unclear. However, with an ongoing deluge of lawsuits being filed, new state and federal legislation being introduced, and ballot initiatives being brought to voters across the country, abortion policy will continue to play out in the United States for decades to come. This new landscape for abortion law and policy likely means that a significant proportion of the US population will not have access to safe and legal abortion services—a health care procedure chosen in approximately one out of five pregnancies for a wide variety of reasons.5
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The Milbank Quarterly is an editorially independent multidisciplinary journal that offers in-depth assessments of the social, economic, political, historical, legal, and ethical dimensions of health and health care policy.