Here's my layman's understanding of Roe v Wade:
- A state had a law prohibiting abortion;
- That law was challenged all the way up to the Supreme Court;
- The Supreme Court found a right to abortion in the 14th Amendment;
- The right to abortion was thus determined to be constitutionally protected;
- The Constitution takes precedence over both state and federal law;
- Therefore, neither the states nor the federal government may pass any law abridging the right to abortion.
If Roe v Wade were to be overturned by some future Supreme Court, it would mean that the right to abortion is not found in the Constitution, and therefore not constitutionally protected. Thus, the states and the federal government would be free to pass laws banning abortion, if they so choose.
I think many Americans would be surprised to learn that if Roe v Wade were overturned, it wouldn't mean abortion is automatically outlawed throughout the land. It means every state and the federal government would have the opportunity to make its own laws about it. (Get ready for 50+1 more battles, I guess.)
But could a future Supreme Court not only overturn Roe v Wade, but also find that abortion is prohibited by the Constitution, thereby preventing the states from making their own laws about it? Does the Supreme Court ever rule that something is prohibited, or only protected/not protected?
Not exactly sure how this could go down anyway. The Supreme Court doesn't write laws, and a prohibition on abortion would have to involve not only the prohibitory statement itself, but also exact definitions, sentencing mandates, parole guidelines, etc. This sounds more like the state legal codes on homicide (first-degree murder, premeditated murder, vehicular homicide, manslaughter, accidental homicide, accessory to murder, etc.) than a Supreme Court ruling.