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The Death of Abortion Rights in America: A Postmortem

In this episode of New Ideal Live, Onkar Ghate, Ben Bayer and Yaron Brook discuss the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturns Roe v. Wade and allows for immediate state-level bans on abortion. They cover the philosophic ideas that led to the decision, why defenses of abortion rights failed and the options now available for defenders of abortion rights.

Among the topics covered:

  • How the majority opinion empties the right to liberty of its content;
  • Justice Clarence Thomas’s opposition to substantive due process;
  • Why the Ninth Amendment has not been used in Supreme Court rulings on abortion;
  • The incrementalism behind Chief Justice John Roberts’s concurrence;
  • Why Roe v. Wade was a good decision despite its imperfect reasoning;
  • The dissent’s defense of individual liberty against majority will;
  • The dissent’s forceful protest against the unprincipled, anti-individualist majority opinion;
  • Why the dissent is right that the majority is inconsistent with its own reasoning in claiming that abortion is different from other rights;
  • Questions about whether the court typically tailors its reasoning to fit a predecided outcome;
  • The problem with the viability standard and the idea of balancing rights with a “state interest” in the fetus;
  • How the dissent undermines its own case by citing Lochner v. New York as a case that was rightly overturned;
  • How the morality of self-sacrifice contributed to the Dobbs ruling and the dissent’s failure to cite the right to the pursuit of happiness;
  • Why the widespread acceptance of collectivist premises have contributed to the abridgement of abortion rights;
  • Why the concept of “states’ rights” is an expression of collectivism;
  • How the fight over abortion rights will continue at the state and federal level.

Mentioned in this podcast are the New Ideal Live episodes “Roe v Wade on the Brink” and “The Supreme Court Abortion Leak vs. the Rule of Law,” Bayer’s book Why the Right to Abortion Is Sacrosanct, and Rand’s lecture “Censorship: Local and Express,” also published in her book Philosophy: Who Needs It.

The podcast was recorded on June 29, 2022. Listen to the discussion below. Listen and subscribe from your mobile device on Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts, Spotify or Stitcher. Watch archived podcasts here.

Podcast audio:

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Sam Weaver

Sam Weaver, BA in English, is a junior education fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute.

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