Nicole Rodriguez, Contributing Photographer

On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, thus eliminating the constitutional right to an abortion. The issue of abortion gripped the Yale community, with public campus demonstrations condemning the Court’s decision.

Even before the Dobbs case was leaked in May 2022, Yale students held rallies in support of the right to a abortion. On Jan. 22, 2022, the Yale chapter of the Medical Students for Choice organization hosted an event in support of the protection of abortion and reproductive healthcare in response to the Dobbs case. Yale New Haven Health physicians and local community activists spoke about reproductive care and justice. Yale Law School also held a hybrid panel discussion on the Dobbs case, discussing fetal viability, legal equality and other issues pertinent to abortion rights.

“[The bill] is causing human rights abuses in Texas every single day it is in effect,” Hillary Schneller, moderator of the panel discussion, said. 

Connecticut also responded to the potential effects of Roe being overturned by the Dobbs decision. In April, Connecticut passed a law that allowed more medical professionals to provide an abortion in the first trimester. This law also ensures that Yale students from anti-abortion states such as Texas can legally seek abortion in Connecticut. 

On May 2, 2022, Politico released the draft of the majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson. Less than 16 hours after the draft was leaked, over 100 students rallied on Cross Campus in support of the protection of abortion established by Roe v. Wade. Later that week, students joined a reproductive freedom protest with 21 other universities. Students marched from Sterling Memorial Library to the New Haven Courthouse to raise public voices of support for Roe. 

“We all came together because we were sad, disappointed and angry, and I was surprised to leave the protest energized and hopeful,” protest co-organizer Elaine Cheng ’25 said. “I didn’t quite expect that, but it was magical. Maybe it was because we realized that we weren’t sad, angry and disappointed alone. We were together.”

Organizers of these protests also called for Yale to issue a response to the opinion, specifically because of Yale’s ties with the Supreme Court. Four of the nine justices attended Yale Law School — and later Samuel Alito LAW ’75, Brett Kavanaugh ’87 LAW ’90 and Clarence Thomas LAW ’74 would vote to overturn Roe. 

On the date of the release of the Dobbs decision, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont and New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker SOM ’10 YSE ’10 released statements promising safe access to reproductive care. Lamont, Elicker and other politicians discussed legislation on protecting access to reproductive care such as through creating a Safe Haven fund for out-of-state patients. Connecticut Attorney General William Tong also joined efforts to protect abortion bills.

In a pro-choice protest at the Supreme Court in 2022, Yale alumna Emily Paterson ’99 was arrested for interrupting a Supreme Court case with public opposition to the Dobbs ruling. Paterson, along with two others, was charged with the offense of “Speeches and Objectionable Language in the Supreme Court Building.”

Yale professors also spoke out about the effects of Dobbs on anti-abortion states. Naftali Kaminski and Kathleen Akgün, professors of pulmonary medicine at the Yale School of Medicine, published an article in the American Thoracic Society that called on medical professional societies to boycott states with strict regulations on abortion. Cary Gross, professor of general medicine and epidemiology at the Yale School of Medicine, and Katherine Kraschel, professor at the Yale Law School, also wrote an editorial that argues the need for medical societies to hold meetings in states that do not restrict abortion access. 

Reproductive justice remains a discussed issue on campus. Former Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta ’96 visited the Law School last month. Gupta was the chair of the Department of Justice’s Reproductive Rights task force after the Dobbs ruling. Law students expressed their interest in hearing from Gupta’s unique perspective. 

“This was a fairly novel focus on reproductive rights by the Department of Justice, so we thought it would be fruitful for our members to hear from AAG Gupta,” Indu Pandey LAW ’26, a member of the reproductive justice group If/When/How, wrote to the News. “There are currently two cases at the Supreme Court related to reproductive rights that AAG Gupta was involved with while she was at the Department of Justice as well, so it was fascinating to hear about the life-cycles of those cases from her and the DoJ’s perspective.” 

Currently, 21 states ban or heavily restrict access to abortion in America. 

EMILY KHYM