Harvard Law School Rappaport Forum | Stare Decisis and Roe v. Wade

On December 1, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The question presented requires the Court to determine whether to reaffirm or overrule, in whole or in part, its decisions in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which recognize a constitutional right to previability abortion. This Fall’s HLS Rappaport Forum explored this vital question.

Guest Speakers:
Mary Ann Glendon. Learned Hand Professor of Law Emerita, Harvard Law School, and a former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See

Reva Siegel, Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Professor of Law, Yale Law School

Moderated by Jeannie Suk Gersen, John H. Watson, Jr. Professor of Law, Harvard Law School



  1. States rights argument was also used to preserve institutions of slavery, it is being now as an instrument of hate, bigotry, and in this case dominance or control over women who are seen in the eyes of ‘conservatives’ as less equal than white male.

  2. Texas is claiming to save human life by banning abortions, but they are the number one state to implement capital punishment. All those ‘conservative’ states banning abortion with the presumption to save lives are just lying.

  3. The majority of Americans believe abortion should be allowed under certain circumstances at an early stage of pregnancy.For 50 years feminists have been screaming that this decision is between a woman and her doctor.That is wrong because it translates into abortion on demand.Roe has to go and it will!

  4. Justice Ginsberg and Breyer’s reluctance to resign when we had the presidency and the senate and justice Kennedy resigning when republicans had the ability to put a judge on the SCOTUS is the reason why liberals will pay a heavy price for a generation. The republicans clearly saw the SCOTUS as an extension of the executive branch and acted to secure their influence while the democrats naively deluded themselves that the scotus was indeed a neutral body. I wish the democrats weren’t such massive losers.

  5. Harvard law School is committed to rigorous discussion and generous listening of substanitive issues as long as they are confined to law books. Let them become real, and the faculty's check book will restrain it's sense of debate. Even if its the harassment and or rape of a student. But, to be fair, they are debaters of the law. They are not trained to DEFEND our values against tyranny and open crimes against the body.

  6. Where does a woman’s right to choose end and the unborn child’s rights to life start? In my opinion, that’s the question that must be decided. It’s a sliding scale that as each day and month passes moves from the mother towards the unborn child. I don’t believe that just because the female is the one carrying the baby that it gives her absolute rights over the life of the unborn child from conception to birth. In my opinion, after looking at medical information, that after the first trimester the child has its own right to life. Now, this could and should be debated, but somewhere in the time between conception and before birth the child’s right to life takes precedence over the woman’s right to choose. The physical health of the mother and possibly rape or incest are exceptions that should be debated.

  7. So, Glendon. That. The fundamental flaw in Roe, in my opinion, traces to the muddled logic whereby the Court decided, de facto, when human life begins (or at least when it does NOT begin) while pretending not to have done so. They went through the rigamarole of an overview on the issue of "when life begins," then threw up their hands and said the court couldn't speculate on that. Blatantly disingenuous! If the Court intended to render a decision, and certainly it did, then it could not NOT address the issue, since permitting abortion without meaningful restrictions was to decide, de facto, that human life did not begin at conception. I'm with Glendon on this. Roe should go. Send it back to the states and let's try to get this, if not "right," at least better than we have it now.

  8. That would be an egregious understatment to say that Reva Siegel, Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Professor of Law, Yale Law School was seething hard for the whole lecture, lol

  9. Privacy would be releasing someone's medical records not the state banning certain procedures, liberty fails cause that would require abortion is mentioned in the constitution and it isn't cause roe was never codified and equality argument fails when it applies to the job market cause mothers are now classified as a legally protected discrimination class in the workplace, roe v wade and casey v planned parenthood don't pass constitutional muster and they should be overturned pursuant to constitutional law

  10. being inside something is not the same as being part of something the autonomy demands that a Siamese has the right to commit suicide .. but shooting himself in the other head

    Fetal pain responses begin at week 8. Pain-sensitive transmitters are complete by week 14. By this time the cerebral cortex is 30-40% complete enough for pain transmitters

    and receptors to function in one go quite efficiently.
    William Liley, Mortimer Rosen confirmed that the response to pain is at least proportional to that amount.
    As you have seen, the assumption that pain cannot occur
    until the nervous system is complete is obviously wrong.

  11. As an outsider looking in, the first lady who was pro knocking down Roe drew her conclusions from legal fact and logic, the second lady came across as an activist who didn't have a backing of law and logic.
    She came off second best easily.

  12. I may be wrong, but one side seemed to be talking legally while the other mainly answered politically. Very good points in general, but way too many politics from one side where the issue discussed was being tackled from a legal perspective.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.