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The United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, ending the constitutional protections women depended on for nearly 50 years. Conservative Justices decided against a woman’s right to make medical decisions for themselves on Friday, June 24, 2022. Today’s outcome is in direct opposition to a majority of Americans who, in recent polls, favored Roe v. Wade’s preservation.
Nonetheless, the court’s conservative majority tossed Roe v. Wade and the 1992 Supreme Court decision that upheld abortion rights in the case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, according to CNBC. Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the majority decision, was joined by the five other conservatives: Chief Justice John Roberts, Associate Justices Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, and Amy Coney Barrett.
The Justices determined that the United States government does not consider a woman’s right to medical privacy unnecessary. Alito wrote:
We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled.
The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely — the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Therefore, the conservative-dominated Supreme Court decided to return the abortion debate to individual states. This ruling was unthinkable a few years ago and signaled the success of abortion opponents’ ongoing chiseling away against Roe v. Wade.
Perhaps, the court was emboldened by former President Donald Trump’s three appointees: Coney Barrett, a devout Catholic, stated with conviction during her confirmation hearing that she would vote to overturn abortion.
After the so-called leak of Justice Alito’s draft opinion that SCOTUS was prepared to end women’s right to medical privacy with this significant move, several governors indicated they would ban Roe v. Wade allowances in their states.
Thirteen states legislated “trigger bans” to outlaw abortion, and many of them took effect as soon as Justice Alito announced SCOTUS’ ruling, according to Guttmacher Institute. The institute predicts that 26 governors will ultimately outlaw or severely restrict a woman’s right to seek information about and have an abortion.
Associate Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan blasted their colleagues’ opinions in their joint dissent.
As of today, they wrote, right-to-life Justices decided against the “Constitutional significance attached to a woman’s control of her body and the path of her life.” Because they dismissed these intrinsic rights, now a state can force a woman to bring her pregnancy to term without concern for personal cost or that of her family.
After Congress could not successfully codify women’s right to have an abortion. President Joe Biden said he was “looking at ways to shore up abortion rights if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade,” according to Politico on June 9. He did not give specific information, although many believe he could have prevented or delayed today’s ruling with an executive order. Legal experts, however, say there is little the president can do to stop states from outlawing abortion.
SCOTUS’ ruling begs the question: If the court can overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, does that mean today’s decision could be overturned in the future?
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
AP: Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade; states can ban abortion; by Mark Sherman
CNBC: Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, ending 50 years of federal abortion rights; by Dan Managan and Kevin Breuninger
Forbes: Roe V. Wade Overturned: Here’s When States Will Start Banning Abortion — And Which Already Have; by Alison Durkee
Guttmacher Institute: State Policy Trends at Midyear 2022: With Roe About to Be Overturned, Some States Double Down on Abortion Restrictions; by Elizabeth Nash and Peter Ephross
Politico: Biden pledges executive orders on abortion. His options are limited. By Alice Miranda Ollstein