The thwarted 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade is a reminder of what’s at stake in the fight for reproductive justice

Roe v. Wade would have turned 50 this Sunday.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! The share of funding to female founders declined last year, Vince McMahon settles a WWE lawsuit, and Roe v. Wade‘s 50th anniversary is here—sort of. Have a restful weekend.

– The almost anniversary. If not for the monumental Supreme Court ruling in June, this Sunday would have been a day of celebration for women’s rights activists. Jan. 22, 2023, marks the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that protected abortion as a constitutional right—and would have marked 50 years of nationwide reproductive justice.

Instead of a moment of celebration, this anniversary is now a somber milestone. Roe didn’t quite make it to 50 after the court’s conservative justices reversed the decades-old precedent. Without blanket protections for abortion access across the country, 24 states have rolled back access to abortion over the past six months. Twelve states have enacted near-total bans on abortion while an additional four enforce bans ranging from six weeks to 18 weeks of pregnancy, according to the Guttmacher Institute. In at least two more states, abortion is effectively totally unavailable because of the closure of abortion clinics post-Roe. Another eight states either have abortion bans on the books that are currently blocked by courts or are likely to enact new anti-abortion legislation in the future.

Since the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision in June, pregnant people have been denied access to abortions they sought out and made to suffer in dangerous medical limbo when terminating a pregnancy became a matter of life or death. Girls born today have fewer rights than some of their mothers and grandmothers.

Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, agrees. “Today is a sober moment,” she told me. “The reversal of Roe v. Wade was the biggest setback for women’s rights in U.S. history. For the first time in 50 years, the right to make decisions about one’s health, life, and future in connection with pregnancy is being denied.”

While it’s easy to think about the protections women have lost over the past year, some new protections have been put in place. Michigan, California, and Vermont all added the right to reproductive autonomy to their state constitutions, while voters in Kansas and Kentucky rejected efforts to amend their constitutions against reproductive freedom. Legal challenges are still winding through the court system, like a South Carolina Supreme Court ruling this month that determined the state’s constitution protects the right to abortion.

Businesses have taken some steps to preserve access to reproductive health care for their employees. But so far corporate America as a whole has failed to take the kind of action—from taking its business out of anti-abortion states to pulling donations to GOP politicians—that would lead to real change.

Only six months out from such a seismic shift in the nation’s social fabric, the reality of this new era can seem overwhelming. The conservative court that overturned the ruling may remain in place for years to come, so advocates for reproductive justice say the U.S. must look to other avenues to protect abortion access and save women’s lives. “To end the state-by-state patchwork of abortion access, we need Congress to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, which is a federal law that would establish a right to abortion nationwide,” Northup says. That way, 50 years from now, we won’t risk sliding even further back.

Emma Hinchliffe

P.S. I’d like to introduce you to Kinsey Crowley! A new fellow at Fortune, she’ll be working on the Broadsheet in the coming months. Please give Kinsey a warm welcome!

The Broadsheet is Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women. Today’s edition was curated by Kinsey Crowley. Subscribe here.


- Minimal results. Speaking of Dobbs, the Supreme Court issued an update on its investigation into who leaked the court's draft decision last year. The investigation has made minimal progress, so far failing to identify who shared the document. CNN

- Extraordinary measures. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that the agency will have to take "extraordinary measures" now that the U.S. has hit its debt limit. That includes pulling back on investments in the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund and the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund. CNN

- Down to 1.9%. VC funding for female founders is on the decline, according to 2022 PitchBook data. 2021 broke a record with 2.4% of all VC funding going to startups with all-women teams, but that fell to 1.9% in 2022. TechCrunch

- Fake students. JPMorgan has sued Charlie Javice, the founder of a startup that the bank bought, for allegedly inflating customer numbers during its acquisition process. Now, Forbes digs into Javice's past. Sources say that Javice had a pattern of stretching the truth. Her lawyer has said that JPMorgan's lawsuit is baseless. Forbes 

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Saana Rapakko Hunt joined women's network Chief as chief product officer. Masami Middleton is now CMO at CallRail. Permira named former EY U.S. chair Kelly Grier as a senior adviser. Jill Chase was promoted to investment partner at CapitalG. Anita Umarji is now partner and head of IR at Bessemer Venture Partners. 


- Lookalike. Donald Trump may have weakened his own defense in a sexual assault and defamation lawsuit through a blunder in a deposition last year. Court documents show that he wrongly identified a photo of accuser E. Jean Carroll—who he said he wouldn't have pursued because she wasn't his "type"—as his ex-wife Marla Maples. Trump has denied the allegations of assault. Washington Post

- Multimillion-dollar settlement. Executive chairman of WWE Vince McMahon settled a lawsuit over rape allegations from the company's first female referee Rita Chatterton. She filed the lawsuit under a new law that opened a one-year window for survivors to pursue damages for previous acts even if the statute of limitations had expired. McMahon has settled a number of other lawsuits over sexual misconduct. Wall Street Journal

- When and where to share. In 2023, California, Washington, and Rhode Island will join the wave of states passing salary transparency laws. While these laws have chipped away at the taboo around talking about salary, lawyers warn that employees should not go as far as posting about their compensation on platforms like LinkedIn. Fortune


The right not to be fun at work New Yorker

Madonna’s upcoming tour will defy society’s limits on female pop stars Washington Post

How boygenius became the world's most exciting supergroup Rolling Stone


"I became a hustler at a very young age."

—Slutty Vegan founder and CEO Pinky Cole in Fortune's new video series The Ground Up.

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