In June 2022 the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, abandoning nearly 50 years of precedent, and removing federal protections for abortion access. In doing so, the Court drew on a lineage of explicit and implicit discourses that have constructed abortions, abortion providers, and pregnant and fetal bodies in ways that make overturning Roe seem inevitable. This thesis takes a reproductive justice perspective while conducting a feminist critical discourse analysis of the majority and concurring opinions in Dobbs. Two main findings stand out. First, the decision relies on originalist constructions of abortions, abortion providers, pregnant people, and fetuses to justify overturning Roe. These constructions have been carefully cultivated within originalist legal theory since at least the 1990s, designed specifically to "erode" federal protections for abortion. Second, the majority and concurring opinions rely on the argument that abortion is akin to racism, and that the Dobbs Court is, accordingly, akin to historically anti-racist Courts such as the Brown v. Board of Education Court. These findings have several implications. First, the institutionalization of originalism is significant since this legal theory is rooted in a history of racism and sexism. Second, the Court relies on a post-racial epistemology to grant themselves racial authority. This allows the Court to police racialized and pregnant bodies while seeming to eschew racist and sexist ideologies. Finally, these findings also have implications for understanding other types of contemporary attacks on civil liberties.
If this is your thesis or dissertation, and want to learn how to access it or for more information about readership statistics, contact us at STARS@ucf.edu
Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Carson, Saphronia, "Gendered and Racialized Bodies in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization" (2023). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 1531.