Roe v Wade overturned
Andrea Austria / Media Matters

How right-wing media reacted to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade

Conservative pundits call for further rollback of rights while downplaying the end of Roe

Right-wing media celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on Friday, ending the constitutional right to abortion almost 50 years after it had been recognized. The ruling was the culmination of a decadeslong project on the right and was celebrated across conservative media outlets and on Twitter.

Many right-wing pundits downplayed the opinion’s significance, arguing that the court simply sent the matter back to the states in a narrow ruling and there is no risk of other rulings following suit (though Justice Clarence Thomas himself stated otherwise). Other commentators used the occasion to double down and call for a further rollback of rights, such as marriage equality and the right to purchase birth control. Others compared the end of Roe to landmark decisions that advanced civil rights, criticized businesses that support their employees’ reproductive care, and used anti-trans rhetoric to mock the importance of abortion rights.

Update (6/27/22): This piece has been updated with additional examples.

  • Downplaying the severity of the opinion and its impact on other key rights

    Former White House press secretary and Fox contributor Ari Fleischer appeared on Fox News and stated, “If any legislature is foolish enough to want to ban contraception, let them try. They will all get voted out of office. This is not the 1920s or 1930s. But the principal point is the people’s representatives and legislatures have the right to make these decisions.” Fleischer elaborated, “If they want to try to ban contraception, which is the big fear now on the left, not a single one would do it because the American people left, right, and center would rise against them.” [Fox News, The Story with Martha MacCallum, 6/24/22]

    Former White House press secretary and Fox anchor Dana Perino called on people to be “very specific about what this is and what this is not” in regards to claims that contraception and gay marriage may follow abortion rights. [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 6/24/22]

    Fox contributor Jonathan Turley claimed “the majority of citizens in the country will have no change at all because they -- most of the population resides in states that have already protected abortion rights.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 6/24/22]

    Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett said “the majority is very specific and vehement that our decision today is confined to abortion only. Nothing affects any other rights such as, they name things like same-sex marriage, contraception, and so forth.” Jarrett went on to say people who believe this could mean the end of other controversial rights are “mistaken.” [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 6/24/22]

    Ben Shapiro claimed that “regulating abortion is not about cracking down on women" and compared it to regulating prostate operations. [The Daily Wire, The Ben Shapiro Show, 6/24/22]

    Shapiro also downplayed Justice Clarence Thomas’ suggestion that the court should reconsider other key cases, saying: “What the court here is attempting to do is to carve off Roe v. Wade from Obergefell, from Lawrence v. Texas,” but “the left fundamentally refuses to understand this.” He also claimed, “When you hear today the left say that the court is going to reopen those things, understand that Thomas would – and he would be correct to do so by the way, legally correct” – but there are not enough votes. [The Daily Wire, The Ben Shapiro Show, 6/24/22]

    Steven Crowder claimed that Roe being overturned “just means, for people who are freaking out,” that “the laws can go back to the states.” [BlazeTV, Louder with Crowder, 6/24/22]

    Judicial Crisis Network’s Carrie Severino spoke about “fearmongering” from dissenting parties. Severino claimed, “This is about abortion. This is not about marriage. This is not about schools. No, it is about abortion. Please don't pretend that it’s going to have an impact on every other case in our society, because it simply doesn’t.” [Fox News, The Faulkner Focus, 6/24/22]

    Severino later stated that “zero states” are moving to outlaw contraception. Severino called these claims “a misconception that a lot of people have and that unfortunately has been advanced by a lot of Democratic politicians.” [Fox News, The Faulkner Focus, 6/24/22]

    Shannon Bream dismissed concerns about the ruling’s impact on rights to contraceptives and same-sex marriage: “While the left will continue to make hay out of that, the court has been very clear those rights will not be under attack because of this particular decision today." [Fox News, The Five, 6/24/22] 

    Anchor Martha MacCallum said 6 to 15 weeks to get an abortion is “a considerable period of time.” [Fox News, The Five, 6/24/22]

    MacCallum dismissed the impact of the ruling: “Abortion has been declining. It's down twenty percent the last fifteen to twenty years. And also with these over-the-counter medications that can end a pregnancy quickly, it's not the issue that it once was.” [Fox News, The Five, 6/24/22

    Anchor Bret Baier emphasized that Justices Roberts and Kavanaugh stated the ruling has no impact on  “precedents that do not concern aboriton.”  Severino added, “Justice Thomas himself says we are not going down that other road.” [Fox News, The Five, 6/24/22]

    Wall Street Journal editorial board member Kimberly Strassel downplayed existing trigger laws, saying they may not  “stick.” [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 6/24/22]

    Jesse Watters dismissed the impact of the ruling because it had been leaked weeks ago: “The left is out in full force tonight over a Supreme Court decision we've known about for weeks.” The accompanying chyron states, “Democrats shriek over expected decision,” while a still of a protester is titled, “These people are lunatics.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 6/24/22]

    Tucker Carlson dismissed the impact of the decision in states where trigger laws have been enacted: “The point is, people will get to live with the laws they want. How is that bad?” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 6/24/22]

    Carlson claimed that because Democrats cannot defend abortion with “legal reasoning,” they have resorted to “fearmongering” about other rights: “They’re going to take your condoms away. And then gay marriage! He’s a liar.”  [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 6/24/22]

    Fox's Mark Levin: “This decision is actually quite moderate.” [Westwood One, The Mark Levin Show, 6/24/22]

    Levin downplayed the impact of the Supreme Court ruling saying, “It's not taking anybody's rights away. It's not giving rights to anybody.” Later on Fox News, Levin added, “This court specifically said they're not addressing contraception, they're not addressing marriage. … [Clarence Thomas] didn't say that he opposes those rights. ... If the media in this country would actually inform itself as you do and report the facts to the American people, we'd be less divided.” [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 6/26/22, 6/26/22

    Bream downplayed the punishments that doctors will face for providing abortions. Speaking about many of the trigger laws and other laws that will severely restrict abortion access, Bream said, “The penalties are never for the woman. It is always for the doctor or the medical personnel who help her to try to obtain an abortion. … A number of these states have made it clear they don’t want the women themselves to be subject to any criminal penalties." [Fox News, Fox News Sunday, 6/26/22]

  • Attacking businesses that pay for reproductive care

    Fox contributor Raymond Arroyo voiced his disapproval that private companies are “getting in the business of helping facilitate a woman to abort her child when they’re doing nothing and offering nothing to help a woman who might choose to keep that child.” [Fox News, The Faulkner Focus, 6/24/22]

    In discussing companies saying they will help employees access reproductive services, anchor Harris Faulkner stated, “If anybody learned their lesson with that, it would be Disney over the issues that have gone on with certain laws down in Florida and getting involved in that in a way.” [Fox News, The Faulkner Focus, 6/24/22]

    Fox host Stuart Varney stated he was “not sure” he could “get behind” corporations that pay their employees to travel for an abortion. “I must say, I find that extraordinary — that major corporations would pay to have their employees who wish to have an abortion travel to a state which allows it freely. … It is a very sensitive issue, but it does sound like encouragement, and I’m not sure I can get behind that.” [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 6/24/22]

    Varney went on to speak with Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) and say, “Forgive me, but I do want to go back to the corporations funding travel expenses and abortion itself for some of their employees.” Varney said he wanted to ask about the “morality” of that and asked, “Is it symptomatic of American corporations diving into left-wing — essentially left-wing politics — and pushing it to the rest of society? That’s the way I see it. How about you?” [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 6/24/22]

    The Daily Wire published an article with the headline “Another High-Profile Business Announces It Will Pay For Employees’ Abortion Tourism.” [The Daily Wire, 6/24/22]

    Anti-trans social media account “Libs of TikTok” directed her followers to companies she claims are helping “their employees kill their unborn children.” [Instagram, 6/24/22]

    Tucker Carlson attacked companies offering abortion access aid: “Employees without families are loyal to the company. And of course it’s much cheaper to pay for an abortion than it is to pay for maternity leave or an extra name on the insurance policy. So, it’s all about the money for corporate America. … Families are bad for big corporations, therefore they’re against families.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 6/24/22]

  • Calling for more restrictive laws, suggesting cracking down on other rights

    Steve Cortes suggested a focus on “things like what constitutes a marriage, when does life begin, they must be decided by a deliberative process" for the next step in rolling back human rights in the United States. [Real America’s Voice, War Room, 6/24/22]

    Fox News contributor Guy Benson called some existing abortion access laws “inhumanely” “permissive.” “We will see a patchwork of abortion laws, some very permissive — I would say inhumanly so — already on the books.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 6/24/22]

    National Review’s Alexandra DeSanctis argued that overturning Roe is “far from the end of the fight. It’s a victory in a major battle, the first hurdle, and now we move on to the next stage in the war.” DeSanctis’ piece then outlines a goal of creating “a world where abortion is both illegal and inconceivable.” [National Review, “What Comes after Roe?” 6/24/22]

    Live Action’s Lila Rose said, “We have to keep on urging the Supreme Court to take a final step towards justice here, and assert that there is a constitutional right to life for all children.” [The Ben Shapiro Show, 6/24/22]

    TheBlaze’s Daniel Horowitz argued that “the blue states will immediately move to massively fund and invite abortions from around the country. Red states should act first. Most aren't in session. Governors need to call them back.” [Twitter, 6/24/22

    Glenn Beck claimed that California and New York would become “abortion mills” and referred to them as “death states.” [TheBlaze, The Glenn Beck Program, 6/24/22]

    Fox’s Mark Levin suggested that a law codifying abortion access would be unconstitutional. [Westwood One, The Mark Levin Show, 6/24/22]

  • Comparing the end of Roe to civil rights cases

    The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh compared the Dobbs decision to the abolition of slavery and the liberation of concentration camps. Walsh said, “History will look back on today like we look back on the abolition of slavery and the liberation of the concentration camps. It is a day when abject evil has suffered a major defeat, and many innocent humans will live and be free because of it.” [Twitter, 6/24/22]

    The president of The Article III Project Mike Davis said the overturning of Roe v. Wade “is equivalent to Brown v. Board of Education." Davis asserted that the Dobbs decision “is equivalent to Brown v. Board of Education,” the 1954 decision banning racial segregation, and described overturning Roe as “one of the most historic days at the Supreme Court.” [Real America’s Voice, War Room: Pandemic, 6/24/22]

    Ben Shapiro compared the Roe v. Wade ruling to the pro-slavery decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford following President Biden’s remarks by claiming “he kept coming back to the idea that there's no fundamental right has ever been taken away in American history like this fundamental American — well actually there was a fundamental right to own other human beings according to Dred Scott v. Sandford. ... There have been some pretty bad fundamental rights in America before.” [Daily Wire, The Ben Shapiro Show, 6/24/22]

    Greg Gutfeld insinuated that the ruling is comparable to the abolition of slavery, saying, “There's things that have been around for hundreds of years that we changed. We fought a war over something.” [Fox News, The Five, 6/24/22]  

    Fox contributor Jonathan Turley dismissed concerns about overturning precedent: “Obviously, the court overturns precedent otherwise we wouldn't have Brown v. Board of Education … We wouldn’t have any of these other cases that are celebrated.” [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 6/24/22]

  • Making anti-trans comments and mocking abortion care

    TheBlaze’s Daniel Horowitz said, “Let's make a deal - we will allow all pregnant males to get abortions.” [Twitter, 6/24/22]

    Ben Shapiro claimed, “Weird how fast we switched from ‘men can give birth’ to ‘women can't be equal in America without the ability to kill their preborn children.’” [Twitter, 6/24/22]

    The Five co-hosts Dana Perino and Greg Gutfeld mocked Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for saying “birthing people.” At the end of the block, Gutfeld jeered again, “Birthing people should get the final say in everything.” [Fox News, The Five, 6/24/22]

    Jesse Watters; “Is a birthing person a man? Can a man have an abortion? This is all very new to me, but I am not a biologist.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 6/24/22]

    Sean Hannity laughed after a caller suggested states “restrict abortion laws that are available to tight corsets and herbs, and laying on a warm coconut shell.” [Premiere, The Sean Hannity Show, 6/24/22]

  • Celebrating the end of Roe v. Wade

    Fox News contributor Andrew McCarthy declared that it’s “a great day for the restoration of constitutional jurisprudence” because Roe v. Wade was overturned. McCarthy proudly said that “it’s a great day for life” because “a lot of us have been working” on overturning Roe v. Wade “for decades.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 6/24/22]

    Washington Examiner opinion writer Kimberly Ross said that abortion access “has been a bloody stain on our nation for far too long. What a truly glorious day.” [Twitter, 6/24/22]

    Ben Shapiro: “Hundreds of thousands of children will now live who would otherwise have been killed in the womb. This is a victory for all human beings, who are created in the image of God.” [Twitter, 6/24/22]

    The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway wrote: “Country owes a HUGE debt of thanks to all the pro-life human rights activists, scholars, lawyers, politicians, parents, pastors, health care workers, etc., who labored for 50 long and hard years to bring the country to this moment of liberation from Roe. THANK YOU.” [Twitter, 6/24/22]

    Judicial Crisis Network President Carrie Severino praised the Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wade for having “courage” and “bravery.” Severino said “this is truly a historic day” because Roe v. Wade was overturned and praised the Supreme Court justices who led the decision for having “courage” and “bravery.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 6/24/22]

    Right-wing blog The Stream published an article with the headline “Dancing on Roe v. Wade’s Grave.” The piece proclaimed, “Ding-dong, the witch is dead. Every friend of innocent life ought to be dancing a merry jig on the unhallowed earth where Roe v. Wade is buried.” [The Stream, “Dancing on Roe v. Wade’s Grave,” 6/24/22]

    Glenn Beck cried over the decision, saying: “We’re going to see miracles in our lifetime, and I think we just saw one.” [TheBlaze, The Glenn Beck Program, 6/24/22]

    Katie Pavlich celebrated, calling the ruling a “huge victory” and claiming that it has “expanded democracy.” [Fox News, The Five, 6/24/22

    Andy McCarthy reminded the audience that it can “be a wonderful thing to have people actually feel like they can impact the regulatory environment that they will live in.” [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 6/24/22]

    Jesse Watters celebrates: “What happened today was not the collapse of democracy. Nor was it a victory for conservatives; it was a victory for the constitution.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 6/24/22]

    Tucker Carlson opened his show by declaring “After nearly 50 years, the single shoddiest, most destructive Supreme Court decision in American history has been struck down.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 6/24/22]

    Laura Ingraham praised the ruling:  “A triumphant Friday night from New York. Answered prayers.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 6/24/22]

    OAN host Dan Ball popped champagne while celebrating the Supreme Court decision. [OAN, Real America with Dan Ball, 6/24/22]

  • Attacking abortion rights as “eugenics”

    Fox & Friends Weekend co-host Rachel Campos-Duffy said pro-choice advocates have a “eugenics mentality.” She added that she refuses to call Planned Parenthood clinics health centers, saying, “They are profit centers. You can call them butcher shops, if you like.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends Weekend, 6/26/22]

    Anti-abortion activist Lila Rose said on Tucker Carlson Tonight that what many pro-abortion advocates are “proposing is eugenics.” Carlson falsely claimed that pro-choice activists make arguments similar to what the Nazis said. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 6/24/22]

    Guest and former Trump administration official Ben Carson claimed that Margaret Sanger, who opened a clinic that would eventually become Planned Parenthood, was a eugenicist. Carson further claimed she put clinics primarily in Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in order to “eliminate the people that she didn't think should be around.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 6/24/22]

  • Making false comparisons of protests to January 6 Capitol insurrection

    Fox News anchor Maria Bartiromo compared Rep. Maxine Waters’ (D-CA) statement outside the Supreme Court to the January 6, 2021, violence at the Capitol, saying she was  “fanning the flames of violence.” Bartiromo added, “More massive hypocrisy given the January 6 hearings underway right now and the Democrats' efforts to try to blame President Trump for just that.” She asked her guest Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), “Isn't this exactly what we're talking about in the January 6 hearings?” [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 6/26/22

    On Sunday Morning Futures conservative pundit John Solomon called the protest outside Arizona’s Capitol “a mini-insurrection in Phoenix.” He added, “A lot of the media aren't talking about that, but that shows you what happens when you get red-hot rhetoric like we saw from Congresswoman Maxine Waters.” [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 6/26/22

    Fox & Friends Weekend co-host Pete Hegseth called a protest outside Arizona’s Capitol building “pretty insurrection-y to me.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends Weekend, 6/26/22]