With 13 SCOTUS rulings to go and the Dobbs decision still outstanding, we’re devoting all of Capital in Context today to helping you understand the existing conversation, how companies are reacting and what comes next. And if you missed our previous guidance on how organizations should prepare to respond to the ruling, read it here and here.
The expected Supreme Court decision on abortion would have complex legal, political, operational and reputational implications for companies, complicated by the wide range of policies across the 28 states that already have or plan to ban or tightly restrict abortions. We forecast a period of upheaval, as states adopt diverse – and opposing – approaches to reproductive healthcare access.
Although the final opinion is likely to differ from Justice Samuel Alito’s leaked draft, the most likely outcome remains that the Court will overturn Roe v. Wade and return to the states the power to regulate abortion— as it was almost 50 years ago.
At this point, there are currently three categories of state legislation expected:
- Existing laws or new bills to restrict abortion, as well as moves in some local communities to do the opposite and decriminalize it. Several states have already enacted “trigger laws” that would automatically impose abortion restrictions pending Roe’s fall. There also may be additional legislation at the federal level.
- Bills restricting the sale of pharmaceuticals used in medical abortions.
- Bills that would criminalize actions by corporate entities to allow women to travel to receive abortion-related services.
SCOTUS could stop short of overturning Roe but still render it largely moot (some Court watchers think Chief Justice Roberts may have circulated a rival opinion less extreme than Alito’s). The pace of decisions is markedly slower than usual this year, leading to speculation that the justices are more divided and less collegial than in the past.
The legal and business landscape on this issue will continue to shift after the decision, especially as the full consequences of the ruling become clear. The shifting mosaic of different rules and standards may not fully resolve itself for months or even years.
Regardless of the high court’s ruling, advocates on both sides of the issue will engage in lengthy litigation that will likely establish a further patchwork of legal standards.