Volcanoes are erupting in The Philippines, but on-fire Australia received some welcome rain. The Iran war cries have been called off and The Donald’s military powers are about to be hamstrung by the Senate. Meanwhile, his impeachment trial is starting, and we’re all on Twitter for a front-row seat.
Against the tide? The United States to roll back abortion rights
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in a draft majority opinion leaked to Politico on Tuesday. “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
A draft is just that—a draft—and the opinion will not go into effect until it is published. With the ever-applicable caveat that we don’t know what the future will hold, it looks likely that the Supreme Court will end federal protections for the right to an abortion in the coming months. Current federal law allows abortions up until 24 weeks of pregnancy, setting the United States among the most liberal countries in the world.
That is including in comparison to most of Europe, where in many countries abortion access is better and more even but where the cutoff for an abortion lies around 12 weeks. With this rollback, the United States would join Poland, El Salvador, and Nicaragua as the only countries to have tightened abortion laws since 1994. “In that period, 59 countries have expanded access,” reported The New York Times, from Ireland to Argentina.
We join many other media outlets in emphasizing: as of now, abortions are still legal in the US. And even if the Supreme Court moves in the way the draft indicates, abortion will not suddenly become illegal nationwide. Many states have a codified right to abortion that exists apart from federal decision-making. Prior to this leak, some even characterized 2021 as a “watershed year for reproductive justice,” with many states, like New Mexico, Illinois, and Virginia, solidifying abortion rights or expanding the availability of care. One state has gone even further. Connecticut, in response to laws in Texas, Idaho, and Oklahoma that allow citizens to sue abortion providers, last month passed a counter-law that protects their residents from such lawsuits. Other states may do the same.
What happens now, state by state
What the situation will look like going forward highly depends on which state you live in, which in many ways it already does. The worrisome areas, should the Court go ahead, are the at least 13 states where near-total abortion bans will take effect immediately or soon after the Court’s decision comes down.
The coverage of exactly what will happen in each state, if Roe is overturned, is difficult to wade through. What we have done for the list below, which is slightly simplified, is check national coverage against each state’s local coverage by hand. States with near-total bans have varying rules around exceptions; for instance, some allow for abortion in cases where the baby will be stillborn, and some do not. We recommend looking at local coverage of your own state for complete details.
- States that have pre-Roe abortion laws on the books that would likely not go into effect: Michigan and Wisconsin
- That may set an earlier cutoff: Arizona (15 weeks), Florida (15 weeks), Montana (20 weeks), and North Carolina (20 weeks)
- That would impose a near-total ban, with exceptions for when the mother’s life is at risk but not for cases of rape: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota,Tennessee, and Texas
- That would impose a near-total ban, with exceptions for when the mother’s life is at risk and for cases of rape: Idaho, Mississippi, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming
- States where it’s unclear what will happen: Kansas and West Virginia
Where Americans stand on abortion is . . . complicated. (Large majorities agree it should be available in cases of rape and endangerment to the mother, but numbers dwindle after that, and many of the states that will enact bans enjoy popular support for them.) Unlike other “culture war” issues, like LGBTQ rights, where the American public has grown more progressive over time, stances on abortion over the last 50 years have remained relatively the same even as the numbers of abortions have gone steadily down.
A pre-Roe US is not the same as a post-Roe one. “Should federal protection for abortion be obsolete, the best-case scenario for abortion access” is that “state laws will enable a plethora of different approaches,” including “abortion-travel networks and abortion-inducing drugs,” writes Elizabeth Nolan Brown in Reason. So far, those options have worked well enough that Texas’ September 2021 law, which essentially banned abortion after six weeks, resulted “in an overall decline [of abortions] of only around 10 percent,” reported The New York Times. And since the vast majority, over 90%, of abortions in the US take place in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, activists see pharmaceuticals and self-managed abortions—which are safe—to be the future of abortion access, and are working on making that option well-known to the public.
That is, of course, a pro-choice proposal of action. There is also one that by logic should appeal to both sides of the fence. The falling numbers of abortions since the 1970s is due to sex education, widespread adoption of birth control, and the (perhaps concerning?) fact that today’s younger generations aren’t having as much sex with one another. One measure to continue that drop, then, is for the Food and Drug Administration to approve over-the-counter birth control.
And for those of us who are tired of the intense politicization of the country’s highest court, a suggestion from TPN Member James Fallows that is pertinent, nonpartisan, and powerful: abolish life terms for Supreme Court justices. “No other serious country appoints its most powerful judges for open-ended life terms,” he wrote on Twitter. He suggests 18-year fixed terms, with each president receiving one appointment to the Supreme Court every two years.
Before we go
A small collection of recent progress for women (and men!) worldwide: Singaporean women can now freeze their eggs for non-medical reasons—but they can only use them in the future if they get married. Kids in Italy used to get their father’s surnames, period. Now parents can choose between the father’s or mother’s surname, or decide on an order that includes both. New Mexico is offering free childcare to most of its residents for a year.
And, we really appreciated this email, posted by TPN Member Tyler Cowen, that lists the 12 trends that point to Russia not turning to its nukes.
Below in the links section, Gen Z and college-educated workers are driving shifts in modern-day work, the world’s first floating city is coming to South Korea, and more.
Pandemic “Retrospective” | S2 Ep. 6
Are we moving “out of the pandemic phase” of COVID-19? We talk with the Director of the Human Nature Lab at Yale University, Nicholas Christakis, and Special Advisor to the Director General of the World Health Organization, Ezekiel Emanuel, about what we’ve learned over the past two years and where we can go from here. | Listen to the episode
TPN on The Daily Zeitgeist
TPN Founder Zachary Karabell and Executive Director Emma Varvaloucas sat down with The Daily Zeitgeist’s Jack O’Brien and Miles Gray to talk about their search histories, Greek rappers, billionaires, and constructive good news. | Listen to the episode
Other good stuff in the news
- Why did US schools make so much progress in the 1990s and early 2000s? | The New York Times
- Gen Z does not dream of labor | Vox
- The revolt of the college-educated working class | The New York Times
- Public libraries are making it easy to check out seeds—and plant a garden | Civil Eats
- From seawater to drinking water, with the push of a button | MIT News
- Is it time for a nuclear power rebrand? | The Washington Post
- People in Beijing can now book a taxi with no one at the wheel | CNN
- South Korea’s Oceanix Busan: The world’s first floating city | Newsweek
- Parkinson’s disease symptoms ‘reversed’ by mini implant, trial suggests | BBC
- RNA breakthrough offers a potential heart attack cure | Freethink
- Canada lifts gay blood donor ban | Washington Blade
- A robot lives in this Antarctic penguin colony. It’s trying to save them | CNN
- Dartford warbler is welcomed back from near-extinction | The Guardian
- Major Japan railway now powered only by renewable energy | AP
- North Koreans are jailbreaking phones to access forbidden media | Wired
- Kamikatsu, Japan’s zero-waste town, has lessons for a sustainable future | The Washington Post
- Which animal viruses could infect people? Computers are working to find out | The New York Times
- How cellphones transformed life at a women’s prison in Argentina | Rest of World
- Companies can soon start paying the Bahamas to store carbon in the ocean | Grist
TPN Member originals
- How powerful stories are rebuilding a church | Deborah Fallows
- Why public discourse has become so stupid (and what to do about it) | Jonathan Haidt and Yascha Mounk
- Why are so many democracies unwilling to condemn Russia? | Fareed Zakaria
- Is everything falling apart? Jonathan Haidt thinks so. I’m not so sure | Robert Wright
- How to stop freaking out | Arthur C. Brooks
- Energy’s future is both cleaner and dirtier | Tyler Cowen
- Some boring takes on the French election | Matthew Yglesias
- Is growth linear, not exponential? | Jason Crawford
- A new bipartisan act aims to make America get along | Eboo Patel
- Globalization is dead. Long live globalization (Plus, Alec Stapp on accelerating progress through public policy) | James Pethokoukis
- Did globalization cause the Great Stagnation? | Caleb Watney
- The surprising connection between pandemics and cancel culture | Nicholas Christakis
- Overtreatment in American health care is a problem | Matthew Yglesias
- Who can pay for a home in America? | Scott Galloway
- The art of the possible: Bob Rae on the UN’s relevance today | Jonathan Tepperman
- A message to the Biden team on Ukraine: Talk less | Thomas L. Friedman
- Non-member add: Optimism, “protopia,” and the future of humanity | Grimes and Lex Fridman
Reverse-summit this week’s long list of progress links.
- Reclaiming Love as a Force for Justice | Valarie Kaur | May 10
- The Power of Dignity | Victoria Pratt | May 11
- Majority Minority with Justin Gest | Manu Meel | May 19
- Automation, Productivity, Work, and the Future | Jason Crawford & Erik Brynjolfsson | May 25
- Breakthrough Dialogue 2022: Progress Problems | Ted Nordhaus | June 22–24
Until Next Time
Meet us at the middle ground.👇