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The Wages of Dobbs and the Confusions of Conservative Jurisprudence

Hadley Arkes

A year has now passed since the Supreme Court’s decision last June in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Or­ganization, in which six conservative Justices finally overturned Roe v. Wade (1973). True to the code of what has been offered to us over the past 40 years as “conservative juris­prudence,” the Justices accomplished that end while deliberately steering around the moral substance of the matter.

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Life and Law: Dare We Hope in Dobbs?

Issue One / 2023

One year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that there was no constitutional right to abortion. Americans have good reasons to celebrate the rescinding of such a high-ranking entitlement to the murder of unborn children. Yet the Dobbs Decision provided no reason why such a right does not exist. Indeed, by “sending the question back to the states,” SCOTUS suggested that there might well be one. It is as if, in the wake of the Civil War Amendments, the question about when Black people became human, or human enough to be protected under the law, were subjected to a vote. We recoil at the thought. Because we know there are some things that must simply be recognized as given. Our existence is one of them.

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Humanum is about the human: what makes us human, what keeps us human, and what does not. We are driven by the central questions of human existence: nature, freedom, sexual difference and the fundamental figures to which it gives rise, man, woman, and child. We probe these in the context of marriage, family, education, work, medicine and bioethics, science and technology, political and ecclesial life. We sift through the many competing ideas of our age so that we might “hold fast to what is good” and let go of what is not. In addition to articles, witness pieces, and book reviews ArteFact: Film & Fiction searches out the human in the literary and cinematic arts.

Humanum is published as a free service by the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Washington, D.C.