See more of the story

On Dec. 1, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health, a case challenging the constitutionality of Mississippi's ban on abortions after 15 weeks. At issue is the law's direct conflict with the court's rulings in Roe v. Wade and by implication, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which held that laws creating an "undue burden" on women's right to an abortion, created by Roe, are unconstitutional.

Almost 50 years later, Dobbs shows that the court's abortion jurisprudence remains unsettled and unworkable.

In our amicus brief submitted to the Supreme Court, we argue that unfettered access to abortion has imposed a burden on all of us. The societal and personal consequences of abortion are sweeping, far broader than the court could have predicted.

The way abortion access has changed societal expectations regarding sexual relationships is a direct contributor to family destabilization. Sexual markets develop based on many factors — and for many, the availability of abortion leads to a disconnection between sex and childbearing, which in turn seems to decrease the risk of having multiple sexual partners, creating an increase in sexual activity, resulting in more unwanted pregnancies with partners who are only marginally committed, if at all, to raising a child together.

Children are then either victims of abortion or are born into homes with more instability and capacity to break apart than if sexual commitment and exclusivity were the norm.

Abortion impacts the role of parents as well. Roe and Casey not only make abortion permissible, but create an expectation that abortion is an option that even young girls should consider, and without their parents' knowledge or consent.

Judicial bypass hearings, which allow judges to determine what is in the best interest of our daughters, are common. Worse, these judicial bypass hearings are required to be confidential in all respects — parents would have no idea that their minor child was part of a judicial bypass hearing as the records are not considered public.

While the Supreme Court has upheld the rights of parents with regard to difficult life decisions made by their children, somehow abortion has become an exception. Roe and Casey have isolated young women from their parents, depriving them of critical parental guidance just when they are likely to need them most.

Roe and Casey also accelerated changing social norms resulting in increasing sexual assault on girls by adult men. Since Roe was decided, many teens who have obtained abortions have become pregnant as a result of statutory rape. The sworn congressional testimonies of girls coerced into getting an abortion to hide a sexual relationship with an adult man have been public record for years.

Almost two-thirds of adolescent mothers have partners older than 20 years of age. Adult males are responsible for 71% of pregnancies among minor girls. A survey of 1,500 unmarried minors having abortions revealed that among minors who reported that neither parent knew of the abortion, 89% said that a boyfriend was involved in deciding or arranging the abortion, and that number increases to 93% when the child is 15 and younger.

Young girls obtaining an abortion are likely encouraged to do so by a sexual partner who could be charged with statutory rape if the child is born. Abortion thus doubles the victimization of these girls — they are not only victims of rape, but of abortion coercion. And by making the child disappear, abortion makes it more difficult to bring rapists to justice.

The collateral consequences of abortion are staggering, and the societal harms can no longer be ignored. We have been living under this cloud of deception for nearly 50 years, coexisting with a so-called "right" invented out of whole cloth long enough.

In its attempt to relieve women of the undue burden of bearing a child, the court must now give an answer for the undue burden it has imposed on society. We hope the court will use Dobbs v. Jackson to fundamentally alter abortion law in a direction that would safeguard the rights of children, and also the rights of women and girls.

Renee Carlson is general counsel of True North Legal, an initiative of Minnesota Family Institute (truenorthlegal.org). Teresa Stanton Collett is a professor and director of the University of St. Thomas's Prolife Center (stthomas.edu/prolifecenter).