Department of Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies

WGS Statement on Dobbs v. Jackson (2022)

June 27, 2022

(Updated July 13, 2022)

On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court unilaterally overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade (1973), eliminating the constitutional right to abortion, with far-reaching consequences for other fundamental rights — from contraception to same-sex relationships and marriage. Justice Clarence Thomas, against whom Professor Anita Hill testified for sexual harassment in 1991, has threatened to challenge specific decisions based on the right to privacy such as Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), Lawrence v. Texas (2003) and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015). It is a proposed undoing of the empowered, fulfilled lives that we desire for all individuals.

While we braced for this decision following the leaked opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson, a profound sense of horror, rage, grief and fear has sunk in across generations. We are not surprised, but our emotions are raw. Pauli Murray, the indomitable feminist, civil rights lawyer, activist and a professor at Brandeis University from 1968 to 1973, pinpointed precisely what lies at the heart of inequality, "If you rip away everything, the business of oppression is the business of not respecting one’s personhood." We are painfully aware that this recent decision, which is another manifestation of gender-based violence in legal guise, will disproportionately impact people of color and marginalized communities, and will fundamentally reset the metric of activism and rights in this country.

This is certainly a setback, but it is not defeat. We are determined as ever to fight for reproductive justice —the basic human right to maintain sovereignty over our bodies, sexuality and gender. We will continue to center intersectional approaches to reproductive justice in our classrooms and programming, organize outside the academy with grassroots organizations and activists, and nurture a community of support and affirmation. In the coming academic year, the WGS department will frame a series of events, panels and talks focused on reproductive justice. As teachers, who once taught Roe v. Wade as a part of the history of women's, gender and sexualities studies, we now face its reversal resolute and determined, taking to heart Pauli Murray’s advice for times like these: "Surrender to none, the fire of your soul."


ChaeRan Y. Freeze

Keridwen N. Luis

Ilana Szobel

Dorothy Kim

Karen V. Hansen

Sabine von Mering

Jill S. Greenlee

Evangelina A. Macias

Elizabeth Brainerd

Susan S. Lanser

A.J. Murphy

Deirdre Hunter

Sarah Lamb