Slow Burn: Roe v. Wade

Season 7: Bonus Episode 4
Content Locked for Slate Plus members

Could a Different Roe v. Wade Decision Have Saved Abortion Rights Today?

All the theories about alternate decisions add up to the same fundamental problem.

Episode Notes

In this member-exclusive episode, Slow Burn’s Susan Matthews and Derek John discuss making this season of Slow Burn and talk about how breaking news surrounding Dobbs affected the process. Then, Matthews interviews Slate senior editor Dahlia Lithwick about the way Roe v. Wade was decided. They discuss the various theories about how it could have been decided differently, and talk through whether that would have affected where we are today.

Further reading:

Neglected Stories: The Constitution and Family Values by Peggy Cooper Davis

January 1973: Watergate, Roe v. Wade, Vietnam, and the Month That Changed America Forever by James Robenalt

Production by Cleo Levin and Chau Tu.

About the Show

In the early 1970s, the future of abortion in America was far from settled. Some states were pushing to liberalize their laws. In others, women could be prosecuted for terminating a pregnancy. Unexpected and dramatic battles raged across the country, shaping the landscape of abortion—even before Roe v. Wade was decided.

For the seventh season of Slate’s Slow Burn, host Susan Matthews explores the path to Roe—a time when more Republicans than Democrats supported abortion rights. You’ll hear the forgotten story of the first woman ever to be convicted of manslaughter for having an abortion, the unlikely Catholic power couple who helped ignite the pro-life movement, and a rookie Supreme Court justice who got assigned the opinion of a lifetime.

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  • Chau Tu is a former editor of Slate Plus.