Most legal commentators believe the battle over abortion is about to shift decisively from the Supreme Court to state legislatures. The idea is that Roe v. Wade’s demise is a foregone conclusion, and the court’s funeral oration for Roe in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health will be the end of the road for the court’s involvement in abortion rights. Recent legislative developments are spotlighting a different prospect: that conservative religious pro-life state lawmakers won’t so easily let the court leave the field. Extreme pro-life legislation that threatens pregnant women’s lives and health, the sexual choices of all Americans, and the boundaries between church and state may force a continuing role on the court. Dobbs will crucially preview the court’s attitudes toward those threats.

Not satisfied with Roe’s elimination, some faithful conservative legislators are now advancing anti-abortion laws that—like other anti-abortion measures already on the books—endanger pregnant women’s lives and health. One eye-popping recent example from Missouri, described by a Planned Parenthood affiliate there, involves bills introduced in the Missouri House and Senate whose terms “endanger patients by potentially criminalizing health care providers for treating ectopic pregnancies.”