Article Title

Chasing Freedom: The History of Government Oppression of the Most Vulnerable and How Expanded Leave Laws Can Promote Liberty for Workers in the Wake of Dobbs


In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court held that the Constitution does not protect a women’s right to an abortion, rejecting both equal protection and substantive due process arguments under the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court held that the Constitution must be interpreted as it would have been by the ratifiers, thereby limiting rights to those that are deeply rooted in the nation’s history. However, as this article demonstrates, the country’s history of legislation and Court decisions have repeatedly failed to protect the liberty interests of the most marginalized members of society and have consistently failed to ensure equal protection of the laws. As a result, Black people, women, and particularly Black women, experience significant inequality–particularly economic inequality.

This article explores the ways in which Black women will bear the brunt of the negative impact of the Dobbs decision–especially from an economic standpoint. As just one step in addressing this inequality, this article proposes the expansion of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to include both more workers and to allow for paid leave. While by no means a complete solution, we argue that ensuring sufficient paid leave for all workers during and after pregnancy, including leave to support families caring for children, will alleviate some of the more severe economic hardships resulting from the Dobbs decision.