Volume 20

A Positive Right to Abortion: Rethinking Roe v. Wade in the Context of Medication Abortion

by Nicole Ratelle

The abortion right articulated in Roe v. Wade has become more unstable and uncertain ever since the landmark decision in 1973. Yet, Roe has never allowed a person absolute autonomy in to deciding to terminate their pregnancy. Rather, the Supreme Court’s articulation of the abortion right was limited by the role of the state, the relational nature of the right, and the contexts in which it could be exercised. This Note argues that the restrictions on the abortion right apparent in Roe have undermined the decision’s efficacy by enabling limitations such as restrictions on access to medication abortion and the criminalization of self-managed abortion. To eliminate these barriers to reproductive freedom and justice, this Note presents a new vision of the abortion right as a positive, civil right to access abortion care.

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