In a 6-to-3 ruling, the Supreme Court ends nearly 50 years of abortion rights

The Supreme Court on Friday overturned Roe v. Wade, overturning the constitutional right to abortion after nearly 50 years in a decision that would change American life, reshape the nation’s politics and lead to all but a blanket bans being banned in about half of cases. the states.

“Roe was blatantly wrong from the start,” Justice Samuel Alito Jr. wrote for a majority in the 6-to-3 decision, one of the court’s most important decisions in decades.

Prohibitions soon took effect in at least eight states after they passed laws that were to be implemented immediately after Roe fell. More states are expected to follow in the coming days, reflecting the main comment in the decision, which is that states are free to end the practice if they choose to do so.

The decision, which closely followed a leaked draft opinion, sparked celebrations and outcries across the country, underscoring how divided abortion remains after decades of relentless ideological and moral battles between those who see choosing to terminate a pregnancy as a right and those who see It eliminates life.

The result, while both the leaked opinion draft and the positions taken by the judges during the case’s arguments were telegraphed, nonetheless produced political shock waves, revitalizing conservatives increasingly focused on battles between states and creating a new resolve among Democrats that made restoring abortion rights an element central to the midterm elections.

Protests escalated across the country on Friday evening. Outside the Supreme Court, thousands of abortion rights supporters demonstrated alongside small groups of anti-abortion activists, who burst bubbles. Crowds swarmed the streets in big cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia, and smaller crowds gathered in places like Louisville, Kentucky, and Tallahassee, Florida.

Speakers at some rallies urged abortion rights supporters to direct their anger to the polls during the November midterm elections, a point echoed by President Biden, who said the court’s decision would put the health of millions of women at risk.

“It’s an investigation of extremist ideology and a tragic mistake by the Supreme Court,” Biden said.

The ruling will test the court’s legitimacy and justify a decades-old Republican project to install conservative justices willing to reject the precedent, which has been repeatedly reaffirmed by previous courts. It will also be one of the notable legacies of President Donald J. Trump, who has pledged to nominate the judges who will overturn Roe’s ruling. All three appointed by him represented the majority in the government.

Chief Justice John J. Roberts, Jr. voted by a majority but said he would have taken a “more nuanced course,” stopping to overturn the Roe regime altogether. The tribunal’s three liberal members objected.

The case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, No. 19-1392, relates to a law passed in 2018 by the Republican-controlled Mississippi legislature that bans abortions if the “potential gestational age of an unborn human being” is set at 15 weeks. The law, a calculated defiance of Roe, included narrow exceptions for medical emergencies or “serious fetal malformations.”

Judge Alito’s majority opinion not only supported Mississippi law, but also said Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 decision that affirmed Roe’s primary ownership, should be overturned.

Judge Alito wrote that Roe’s reasoning was “exceptionally weak, and the decision had grave consequences.” Far from reaching a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have ignited controversy and deepened the division. It is time to turn to the constitution and return the question of abortion to the elected representatives of the people.”

Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Connie Barrett joined the majority view.

In a sad joint dissent, Justices Stephen J. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan wrote that the Court had done serious damage to women’s equality and legitimacy.

“A new, naked majority of this court – acting practically at the first possible moment – revokes Roe and Casey,” they wrote, adding that the majority passed “a decision that gives the green light even to a complete abortion ban.”

The opposition concluded: “With sorrow — to this court, but more so, to the many millions of American women who today have lost basic constitutional protections — we oppose.”

The decision left important questions unanswered and exposed tensions between the five justices in the majority.

One question was whether the Constitution required exceptions to the prohibition of abortion for the life or health of the mother, for victims of rape or incest, or for fetal disabilities. The majority view noted that Mississippi law made exceptions for medical emergencies and fetal abnormalities, but did not state that such exceptions were required.

In a favorable opinion, Judge Kavanaugh suggested that an exception might be needed for maternal life, but he did not say so in many words. “Abortion laws traditionally and currently make an exception when an abortion is necessary to protect the life of the mother,” he wrote. “Some laws also provide other exceptions.”

But opponents wrote that some recent state laws were close to conclusive.

The dissenting opinion stated: “Some states have enacted laws that extend to all forms of abortion procedures, including taking medication at home.” They passed laws without any exceptions when a woman is a victim of rape or incest. Under these laws, a woman is required to bear the child of her rapist or a young girl from her father – regardless of whether it would destroy her life.”

Another open question is whether other antecedents are now at risk.

Judge Alito said the court’s ruling was limited.

He wrote: “To ensure that our decision is not misunderstood or mischaracterized, we affirm that our decision relates to the constitutional right to abortion and not any other right.”

But Justice Thomas, a majority member, issued a concurring opinion that sent a different message. He wrote that it was entirely correct that the majority opinion only addressed abortion, but said that his reasoning required the court to reconsider decisions regarding contraception, same-sex sex, and same-sex marriage.

“It is our duty to ‘correct the error’ that arose in those precedents,” he wrote, citing an earlier opinion.

Judge Kavanaugh took the opposite approach in his supporting opinion, saying that the precedents set by Judge Thomas were safe.

Noting that Judge Thomas “is not with the program,” the defectors said, “no one should be confident that his majority is done with his work.”

Opponents said the promises are pointless.

“The future significance of today’s opinion will be decided in the future,” they wrote. “And the law often has a way of evolving.”

Chief Justice Roberts, who voted by a majority but did not embrace its reasoning, said he would have ignored only one element of Roe: his ban to ban abortion before fetal survival.

He wrote that the right to abortion should be “extended sufficiently to ensure a reasonable opportunity to choose, but need not be further extended—certainly not all the way to viability.”

The presiding judge added, “The court’s decision to overrule Roe and Casey is a serious shock to the legal system – no matter how you view those issues. A narrower decision that rejects the misguided feasibility line would be significantly less worrisome, and nothing else is needed to resolve this case.” “.

This is a recipe for turmoil, said Judge Alito, who was a close ally of the chief justice.

“If we only saw the 15-week Mississippi rule as constitutional, we would soon ask for the constitutionality of a whole set of laws to be passed with shorter deadlines or no deadline at all,” he wrote.

In defying the law, Mississippi’s only abortion clinic focused on the Fourteenth Amendment, which states that states shall not “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.” Justice Alito wrote that the amendment, adopted in 1868, was not understood to address abortion, which he said at the time was a crime in most states.

The common offenders responded that only men had co-sponsored the amendment. “So it is perhaps not surprising that ratifying states have not been fully attuned to the importance of reproductive rights to women’s freedom, or to their ability to participate as equal members of our nation,” they wrote.

Judge Alito wrote that women nowadays enjoy political clout. “In the last election in November 2020, women, who make up about 51.5 percent of Mississippi’s population, made up 55.5 percent of the voters who cast their ballots,” he wrote.

In his supporting opinion, Judge Kavanaugh wrote that states cannot prevent their residents from traveling to other states to have abortions. Opponents replied, it was not a convenience for women so poor that they could not travel.

They added that the majority left open the possibility that Congress would enact a nationwide ban. If that happens, “the challenge for a woman will be to fund a trip and not to New York.” [or] California but to Toronto.”

When the court sentenced Roe in 1973, it established a framework for regulating abortion based on the last three months of pregnancy. In the first trimester, almost no regulations were allowed. In the second, it allowed regulations to protect women’s health. In the third, states were allowed to ban abortions as long as there were exceptions to protect the life and health of the mother.

The court ditched the third-trimester framework in 1992 in Casey’s decision but retained what it called Roe’s “basic holding” – that a woman has a constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy until the fetus is viable.

Two years ago, in June 2020, the Supreme Court struck down a restrictive abortion law in Louisiana by a margin of 5 to 4, with Chief Justice Roberts delivering the decisive vote. His concurring view, which expressed respect for precedent but suggested a relatively watered-down standard for evaluating restrictions, suggests a gradual approach to curtailing abortion rights.

But that was before Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in September of that year. Her replacement by Judge Amy Connie Barrett, a conservative who spoke out against “abortion on demand,” changed the dynamic in the court.

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