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Reproductive Rights

Introduction to Abortion Law

Abortion law is a complicated area that involves both federal and state law as well as constitutional, statutory, and regulatory law.  As such it can be very difficult to determine the exact laws governing abortion in any particular jurisdiction.  At this moment in time, abortion law is a national interest topic with significant public and scholarly interest.  Thus, there are many sources available to collate this information for us. This guide will help to highlight some of the most useful sources as well as help you find others sources for additional information. This guide is limited to United States (federal and state) domestic law.

Currency Note

The accuracy of much of this information WILL CHANGE as Roe v. Wade was overturned by Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health on June 24, 2022.  Please understand that most of the legal information presented is in effect as of June 22, 2022 (before Dobbs).

Supreme Court Decision Overrules Roe v. Wade

On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court issued a formal opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, which centered on a Mississippi law baring most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, a violation of the standard set in Roe v. Wade. The Supreme Court upheld the Mississippi law and overturned both Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

The published opinion (slip law) is available to read online or as a PDF download below. 

This decision comes down over a month after Politico released a leaked draft of the Supreme Court's Dobbs opinion on May 2, 2022. The leaked draft is available to read online or as a PDF download below. 

Legal News Coverage:

  • SCOTUS Blog, Supreme Court Overturns Roe
  • Law360, Supreme Court Overturns Roe
  • ABA Journal, Supreme Court Overturns Roe and the right to abortion
  • Bloomberg Law, Supreme Court Overturns Roe
  • Bloomberg Law, Supreme Court Justices Disagree on Scope of Dobbs
  • Guttmacher Institute, Abortion after Roe: New Comprehensive Map Tracks Abortion Policies and Statistics for Each State

Executive Branch Response: 

On July 8, 2022, President Biden signed an Executive Order protecting access to reproductive healthcare services. The order aims to safeguard access to abortion care and contraceptives, protect patient privacy, and establish an interagency task force between the Department of Health and Human Services and the White House.  

The Biden Administration seeks to establish guidelines in the areas of interstate travel and medication sales, patient privacy, and emergency treatment:

Emory Law Protest Guide:

Those protesting the ruling in Dobbs may check out Emory Law Library's Protest Resource guide. Although the guide focuses on the protests surrounding George Floyd's murder in 2020, this resource includes general protest support and safety information.

Majority of court appears poised to roll back abortion rights - SCOTUSblog

Landmark Cases in Federal Abortion Law

Resources for Federal Abortion Law

Executive Orders:

Books and Reports:
Books and reports included in the Emory Libraries collection: 

Emory Law Library Catalog Searches:
See search results from the Emory Libraries catalog using the following search terms: 

Resources for State Abortion Law

State-by-State Breakdowns:

Books and Reports:

State Research Guides (Not abortion-specific):

Emory Law Catalog Subject Term Searches:

Reference Works & Overviews

For a comprehensive summary of abortion laws (including medical definitions, US legislative history, and activism) as well as links to a variety of scholarly articles supporting each side of the issue, see this "Topic Overview" collection provided courtesy of Gale Publishing: "Abortion" Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection, (Gale Publishing, 2018).

For information about abortion laws in specific states, see An Overview of Abortion Laws (June 1, 2022) provided by the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) worldwide.  This website includes a state-by-state breakdown of abortion laws in graph format and as an interactive map. Additional State-by-State surveys of abortion law are available in the Resources for State Abortion Law box above.


Reference Works

Searching the Emory Library Catalog

Westlaw and Lexis are wonderful tools for finding primary sources (cases, statues, etc) as well as secondary sources like law review articles. Our catalog should be used to search for additional sources available to you. Call numbers can be used to find books in the catalog and on the shelves. Subject term searches can be used to find every resource tagged with the that particular term, which is an excellent way to identify relevant works. Some helpful examples of both are provided below.

Call Numbers

  • Abortion KF3771
  • Reproduction RG133
  • Women - Legal Status KF477

Subject Terms