Title: “Vagueness and the Law: Dobbs, Abortion, and the Lessons we Refuse to Learn from History.”

Bio: Alicia Gutierrez-Romine is an associate professor of U.S. History at La Sierra University with an emphasis on California, the U.S.-Mexico border, and the history of medicine. Her publications include a chapter “Abortion and Intimate Borderlands” in Beyond the Borders of the Law: Critical Legal Histories of the North American West (University Press of Kansas, 2018); her book, From Back Alley to the Border: Criminal Abortion in California, 1920-1969  (University of Nebraska Press, 2020), and her recent article in California History “Abortion and the Law in California: Lessons for Today.” Her current research explores intersections of race and professional medicine in Southern California in the early 20th century.

Abstract: On June 24, 2022, the US Supreme Court issued its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson. The Act at the center of the case, Mississippi's Gestational Age Act, is reminiscent of previous abortion laws that have been discussed, debated, and ultimately found void for vagueness in California. While many like to think of abortion in black and white, it is a very gray topic. However, rather than fix or amend laws that leave too much room for interpretation, we have failed to learn from the past and have fallen back into the same traps--ultimately recreating the same faulty laws.