The U.S. Supreme Court has overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that has guaranteed the right to an abortion for more than 50 years, creating a grim new reality for women’s health in the country while granting a significant victory to religious conservatives.
In a 6-3 decision Friday, the top court upheld a Mississippi law that would ban most abortions after the 15th week, effectively abolishing the legal precedent Roe v. Wade established in 1973.
Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the court’s three liberal-leaning justices, unable to sway even one member of the solid conservative majority.
The question of whether abortions are legal will now be left up to individual states, which will lead to widespread differences in access across the U.S.
In a statement on Twitter, former U.S. President Barack Obama said the decision was “attacking the essential freedoms of millions of Americans.”
Today, the Supreme Court not only reversed nearly 50 years of precedent, it relegated the most intensely personal decision someone can make to the whims of politicians and ideologues—attacking the essential freedoms of millions of Americans.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) June 24, 2022
For more than a month, we’ve known this day was coming—but that doesn’t make it any less devastating. Here are my thoughts from when we first saw the draft ruling: https://t.co/aegHc7AoTm
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) June 24, 2022
The court’s decision on the Mississippi case had been foretold since May, when Politico published a draft opinion from Justice Samuel Alito that called Roe v. Wade “egregious from the start” and argued it should never have been treated as precedent.View link »
Although the court warned the document, which had been written in February, was an early draft and would evolve before the final decision was released this summer, it sent shockwaves through the country and sparked mass pro-choice protests.
An attempt by Congress to enshrine the right to an abortion as federal law, along with other women’s health protections, died in the Senate days after the draft was leaked due to Republican opposition.
[section-heading title=”Immediate impacts” /]
The overturning of Roe v. Wade will be immediately felt in several states.
Thirteen states — including Texas, Louisiana, Kentucky and Tennessee — have so-called “trigger laws” in place that ban abortion entirely, and are written to go into effect within a month of the Supreme Court’s ruling. Some include financial penalties or prison sentences for patients and medical practitioners who perform an abortion.
Another dozen states are likely to follow suit and pass similar bans, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a think tank that supports abortion rights.
Some of those states, such as Florida, have recently passed bills that ban most abortions as they waited for the Supreme Court to rule on the Mississippi case. Those laws are more likely to withstand court challenges in the wake Roe v. Wade’s downfall.View link »
Only some of those laws make exceptions for rape and incest, while most say they will allow abortions only if the mother’s life is at stake if they try to give birth.
Sixteen states as well as Washington, D.C., have laws in place that protect the right to abortion, including California, New York and most of the U.S. northeast.
Abortion advocates have warned the banning of abortions in some states will force women seeking the procedure to travel to more permissible states and countries. That could overwhelm providers in those jurisdictions while also putting undue financial and medical burden on women, those advocates say.
In Canada — where abortion is decriminalized but not enshrined into law and access varies — experts have predicted an American surge could lead to increased wait times and shortages of abortion pills.
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said last month that he will ensure border agents allow Americans to come to Canada for care.
[section-heading title=”A decision long fought for” /]
Pro-life advocates and religious conservatives have spent the decades since Roe v. Wade was decided trying to get it overturned, working to install judges to the Supreme Court who aligned with their stance on abortion.
Past legal challenges have been rejected by the court or have failed, including in 1992, when justices ruled in favour of maintaining a woman’s right to choose in Planned Parenthood v. Casey despite allowing more regulation by the states.
Yet the appointment of Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett to the bench by then-president Donald Trump — all of whom have voiced opposition to abortion — saw conservative states pass a flurry of new abortion restrictions that would automatically face court challenges.
The Mississippi case was the first one the Supreme Court agreed to hear, and in oral arguments last December, Trump’s nominees along with Alito and Justice Clarence Thomas — both of whom have long argued against Roe — hinted they were leaning toward siding with the state’s restrictive abortion law.
Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett were included on a list of judges approved by the Federalist Society, a conservative legal organization that promotes a strict and traditionalist reading of the U.S. Constitution.
Although Barrett has been vocal about her opposition to abortion, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh told senators during their confirmation hearings that they would respect the precedent created by Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which they said was “settled law.”
Stars also took to Twitter to express their thoughts on the ruling.
— Jonathan Van Ness (@jvn) June 24, 2022
A woman’s right to choose is a HEALTH decision.
A PERSONAL health decision.
I’m a Christian and know that.
— yvette nicole brown (@YNB) June 24, 2022
GUNS HAVE MORE RIGHTS THEN MY DAUGHTERS.
— Lea Thompson (@LeaKThompson) June 24, 2022
This is a dark day in American history. The Supreme Court destroyed womens’ right to choose. The result will shatter women’s lives, make children & families poorer, increase the financial burden on men & erode the American economy.
This is a terrible tragedy for all of us.
— Aisha Tyler (@aishatyler) June 24, 2022
America. Wake up. Stop saying “it won’t happen here.” It is happening. https://t.co/1wWX0v9isF
— Sophia Bush (@SophiaBush) June 24, 2022
GET YOUR FICTIONAL HATEFUL BIBLE STORIES AND YOUR FAKE FICTIONAL RELIGIOUS BULLSHIT OUT OF OUR FUCKING LIVES. FUCK YOU.
— billy eichner (@billyeichner) June 24, 2022
My thoughts on the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. pic.twitter.com/9ALSbapHDY
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) June 24, 2022
You don’t need 280 characters today. Just one word: Rage https://t.co/ECu46yV70L
— Josh Gad (@joshgad) June 24, 2022
This is actually happening.
— shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) June 24, 2022
Not too long ago, this would have been dystopian sci-fi. But the legacy of the 2016 election and the indelible mark of the GOP is printed here in black and white. How much farther this will go once again depends on American voters. Blame extremism or apathy, but this is America: pic.twitter.com/WefAworLlW
— Seth MacFarlane (@SethMacFarlane) June 24, 2022
fuck you roberts.
fuck you thomas.
fuck you alito.
fuck you kavanaugh.
fuck you gorsuch.
fuck you coney barrett.
— Monica Lewinsky (she/her) (@MonicaLewinsky) June 24, 2022
I have nothing nice to say at this moment in time.
— Ariana DeBose (@ArianaDeBose) June 24, 2022
This Supreme Court is an absolute disaster. From giving people the right to carry guns to taking away Womens rights of autonomy over their own bodies. We weren’t being reactive we saw it coming.
— Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) June 24, 2022
Everybody gets a gun but nobody gets bodily autonomy. America.
— Elizabeth Banks (@ElizabethBanks) June 24, 2022
They did it. THEY DID IT TO US! #SCOTUS has overturned #RoevWade, enshrined in the Constitution as settled law for over 50 years. How dare they? This #SCOTUS is absolutely tone-deaf to the will and even the actual needs of the American people. #WakeUpAmerica
— bettemidler (@BetteMidler) June 24, 2022
At least the Supreme Court all said in their laughable senate auditions that they respect precedent. So that was nice.
— Albert Brooks (@AlbertBrooks) June 24, 2022