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Lesson for the day: “What would the end of Roe mean?” Key questions and answers.’

To note: On June 24, the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade, eliminating the constitutional right to abortion after nearly 50 years in a decision that will transform American life, reshape the nation’s politics and lead to near-total bans on the procedure in about half of the states. The lesson below was written in May when a draft of the notice was released to the public.

For more on this breakup story, you can follow The Times Live Updates.

Featured Article: “What would the end of Roe mean? Key questions and answers.” by Claire Cain Miller and Margot Sanger-Katz

According to a leaked draft opinion from February, the Supreme Court voted to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade who guaranteed the right to abortion for nearly half a century. Although the decision is not final, and Supreme Court justices sometimes change their minds, the disclosure sparked a political earthquake with potentially significant electoral and legal consequences. If Roe is indeed overthrown, many conservative states are likely to ban nearly all abortions.

In this lesson, you will learn what the end of Roe in the United States would mean. Next, you’ll develop a list of questions you have about the issue and seek to answer at least one of them before thinking about how you feel about this news.

In your journal, reflect on these questions:

  • What do you know about abortion, a medical procedure to end a pregnancy?

  • What do you think of the problem? Why?

  • Where and from whom did you hear about the problem?

  • What do you know of Roe v. Wade, the historic decision that guaranteed access to abortion? What questions do you have?

For a bit more background, watch this four-minute video from the Bill of Rights Institute that traces the history of Roe v. Wade. As you watch the video, write down three things you learned and two questions you still have.

Read the articlethen answer the following questions:

1. How will the Supreme Court’s draft opinion — if it remains unchanged at the time of the final ruling — affect access to abortion? Would such a decision make abortion illegal nationwide? Explain.

2. Based on predictions from the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Guttmacher Institute, are your state’s laws likely to change? How do you feel after reading these predictions?

3. How does Texas provide an example of what could happen if Roe were overthrown? What options will be available to women seeking an abortion if the laws change in their state?

4. What do the statistics show about women who have abortions in America? What is your reaction to this information? Why?

5. How does the United States compare to the rest of the world in terms of access to abortion?

6. What are the next steps after such a decision and any resulting changes?

Part 1: Find out more

Go back to your journal and write your first thoughts and reflections after reading the article. Then make a list of questions you still have, maybe share your list with other students in your class. Finally, choose a question and try to answer it with one of the items from the list below, which includes both news reporting and analysis and data visualizations from the Times The Upshot section. (Please note that this is just a starting point. As news on this issue continues to flow, you can follow live updates here.)

When you have found answers to your questions, you can share the information with other members of your class. Then go back to your journal to answer this question: Did the facts or information you just learned help you understand the issue differently? Why or why not?

Part 2: Reflect

In the fall, following court rulings that restricted abortion rights in Texas and expanded access to abortion in Mexico, we asked students what they thought of the status of the right to abortion. Scroll through some of their responses. Can you find statements with which you agree? Are there any that give you trouble?

In Part 1 of this exercise, you learned more facts and background about the issue of abortion in the United States. We now invite you to further develop your views on the matter. To do this, you can read a series of articles from the Times Opinion section, as well as other sources. Or check out a site like ProCon.org, whose mission is to “promote civility, critical thinking, education, and informed citizenship by presenting the arguments for and against debatable issues in a simple, nonpartisan, and freely reachable”. Here are the site’s resources on abortion, and here are some essays from the Times Opinion section to get you started:

Reviews | Roe is as good as gone. It’s time for a new strategy.

Reviews | I am pro-life. Don’t call me anti-abortion.

Reviews | Texas is the future of abortion in America

Finally, share your thoughts on the following questions in your journal or in a class discussion. If you choose to discuss this in class, make sure you have a class contract and experiment with a discussion strategy like a silent conversation on large paper or a fishbowl discussion.

Here are some questions that might help you:

  • What is your reaction to the draft notice to quash Roe v. Wade? Why?

  • How do you think governments should approach abortion, if at all? How do your personal feelings about abortion inform – or don’t they inform – your political beliefs?

  • What arguments have you heard in favor of the right to abortion? Do any of them appeal to you? Why or why not?

  • What arguments have you heard against the right to abortion? Do any of them appeal to you? Why or why not?

  • After all the reading and thinking you’ve done on this issue, are there any conclusions you can draw? What questions do you still have?


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