President Trump has pledged to appoint Supreme Court justices who will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy was a cautious supporter of abortion rights. With his departure and the addition of a second Trump appointee, the Supreme Court would have a conservative majority that would most likely sustain sharp restrictions on access to abortion in the United States.
But if the court does hear a case that brings up the issue, it is hardly clear that it would take the drastic step of overruling Roe. The court could instead opt for a more incremental strategy, upholding increasingly severe restrictions in much of the country but stopping short of saying that the Constitution has nothing to say about a right to abortion.
Assuming that there are five justices ready to limit abortion rights, how could that happen? Here are some of the possible scenarios, each of which entails a different degree of legal upheaval.