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Supreme Court’s Abortion Rulings May Set the Stage for More Restrictions

Superficially, abortion rights had a good run at the Supreme Court this term. Two weeks ago, the justices unanimously let an abortion pill remain widely available. On Thursday, the court dismissed a case about Idaho’s strict abortion ban, which had the effect of letting emergency rooms in the state perform the procedure when the patient’s health is at risk.

But the two rulings were so technical as to be ephemeral. They seemed designed for avoidance and delay, for kicking a volatile subject down the road — or at least past Election Day.

Some supporters of abortion rights called the rulings Pyrrhic victories, ones they feared would set the stage for more restrictions, whether from the courts or from a second Trump administration.

In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the 2022 decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court signaled that it sought to get out of the abortion business. “The authority to regulate abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives,” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote for the majority.

The two recent rulings were generally consistent with that sentiment, though Justice Alito himself was eager to address Thursday’s case. “Apparently,” he wrote, “the court has simply lost the will to decide the easy but emotional and highly politicized question that the case presents. That is regrettable.”

The majority took a different view, but its strategy of evasion cannot last, said Mary Ziegler, a law professor at the University of California, Davis.

Read more on nytimes.com