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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2023




Cambridge University Press




Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health continues a trajectory of U.S. Supreme Court jurisprudence that undermines the normative foundation of public health — the idea that the state is obligated to provide a robust set of supports for healthcare services and the underlying social determinants of health. Dobbs furthers a longstanding ideology of individual responsibility in public health, neglecting collective responsibility for better health outcomes. Such an ideology on individual responsibility not only enables a shrinking of public health infrastructure for reproductive health, it facilitates the rise of reproductive coercion and a criminal legal response to pregnancy and abortion. This commentary situates Dobbs in the context of a long historical shift in public health that increasingly places burdens on individuals for their own reproductive health care, moving away from the possibility of a robust state public health infrastructure.

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