In its 6-3 decision Friday, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that established the constitutional right to abortion in the United States in 1973.
The court’s controversial and predictable ruling gives individual states the power to make their own abortion laws without worrying about conflict with Roe, which allowed abortions during the first two trimesters of pregnancy.
Almost half of the states are expected to ban or severely restrict abortion as a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling, which ties into the new, highly restrictive Mississippi abortion law.
Other countries plan to maintain more liberal rules governing the termination of pregnancy.
Abortion rights advocates immediately condemned the ruling, and abortion opponents praised the decision they had long hoped for.
Read the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade here:
Justice Samuel Alito, as expected, wrote the majority opinion that ousted Roe as well as a 1992 Supreme Court decision upholding abortion rights in a case known as Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
Alito was joined in this ruling by the five other conservatives on the Supreme Court, including Chief Justice John Roberts, whose support for Roe’s heart has long been in doubt.
The court’s three liberal justices offered a dissenting opinion, which quickly drew protesters to the Supreme Court building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
“We believe Roe and Casey should be nullified,” Alito wrote.
Alito wrote, “The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including that upon which the defenders of Roe and Casey now rely chiefly—the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
It was asserted that this clause guarantees some rights not mentioned in the Constitution, but that any such right must be “deeply rooted in the history and traditions of this nation” and “implicit in the concept of organized liberty.”
“It is time to turn to the constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives,” Alito wrote.
In their joint opposition, the court’s liberal justices criticized the ruling, writing: “A majority will allow states to ban abortion from pregnancy onwards because they do not believe that forced birth means a woman’s right to equality and freedom.”
“Today’s court, i.e., does not believe that there is anything of constitutional significance connected with a woman’s control over her body and the course of her life,” said opponents Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
“A state can force her to terminate a pregnancy, even at great personal and family costs.”
Pro-demonstrators march in front of the Supreme Court building amid the ruling that may overturn the case Roe v. Wade on June 13, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Roberto Schmidt | AFP | Getty Images
The case that caused Roe’s death nearly half a century later, known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, linked to a Mississippi law that banned nearly all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Dobbs was by far the most contentious dispute in the court’s tenure. It also posed the most serious threat to abortion rights since Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in which Roe was reconfirmed by the Supreme Court.
Dobbs deepened partisan divisions in a period of already intense political tribalism.
The early leakage of a majority opinion draft in early May, which completely upended the Roe regime, sent shockwaves across the country and galvanized activists on both sides of the debate. It also cast a shadow over the country’s highest court, which immediately opened an investigation to find the source of the leak.
The publication of the court’s draft opinion, written by Alito, sparked protests from abortion rights proponents, who were outraged and fearful of the decision’s impact on both patients and caregivers as 22 countries prepare to restrict or ban abortions altogether.
The leaked opinion represents a major victory for conservatives and anti-abortion advocates who have worked for decades to undermine Roe and Casey, which the majority of Americans support.
But Republican lawmakers in Washington, hoping for a big win in November’s midterm elections, initially focused more on the leak itself than on its revelations. They also denounced protests that formed outside the homes of some conservative judges, and accused activists of trying to intimidate the court.
The unprecedented leak of Alito’s draft opinion has left a hole in the mantle of secrecy that usually covers the court’s internal affairs. It has attracted intense scrutiny from critics of the court, many of whom were already concerned about the politicization of the country’s most powerful deliberative body, where judges are appointed for life.
Roberts pledged that the work of the court “will not be affected in any way” by the leak, which he described as a “treason” aimed at “undermining the integrity of our operations.”
Obviously, the spill had an effect. A tall fence was erected around the courthouse afterward, and Attorney General Merrick Garland directed the US Marshals Service “to help ensure the safety of the judges.”
Alito, in his first reported remarks since the leak, spoke remotely from the courthouse to a crowd attending a forum at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia School of Law, rather than making the six-mile commute to school. The Washington Post reported that when asked during the event how he and the other judges stood, Alito replied, “That’s a topic I told myself I wasn’t going to talk about today, you know — given all the circumstances.”
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