On October 10th, we continued the 2022-2023 Penn Center for Public Health Seminar Series with reproductive rights attorney, Kathryn Kolbert. In her long and esteemed career advancing women’s rights, Kolbert has appeared twice before the United States Supreme Court, including arguing the landmark abortion case Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
In the seminar, “Protecting Reproductive Rights & Health in a Post-Roe Era,” Kolbert addressed the rapidly changing legal landscape of U.S. reproductive freedoms in the wake of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. She discussed the immediate impact of Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in eliminating a constitutional right to abortion, which quickly enabled 12 states to completely prohibit abortion and 10 others to severely limit access. She also highlighted the grave implications of these laws on people’s health and wellbeing, and the disproportionate impact they will have on marginalized and socially vulnerable populations.
Kolbert argued that the Dobbs decision created a “road map” for repealing other unenumerated protections (not explicitly codified in the Constitution but inferred from those that are), such as the right to contraception. Kolbert concluded the seminar by discussing the long path ahead in regaining constitutional legal protections for abortion, suggesting that it is the balance of political power that will determine the future of reproductive freedoms in America.