WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Friday struck down constitutional abortion protections for women, a fundamental and deeply personal change to the lives of Americans after nearly half a century under Roe v. Wade. The court’s reversal of the court’s landmark decision will likely result in abortion bans in about half of the states.
The decision, unthinkable just a few years ago, was the culmination of decades of effort by abortion opponents, made possible by an emboldened right side of the court fortified by three appointees from former President Donald Trump.
Both sides predicted that the fight against abortion would continue, in state capitals, in Washington and at the ballot box. Justice Clarence Thomas, a member of Friday’s majority, urged his colleagues to overturn other High Court rulings protect same-sex marriage, same-sex sex and the use of contraceptives.
Pregnant women considering abortions had previously faced a near-total ban in Oklahoma and a ban after about six weeks in Texas. Clinics in at least eight other states — Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, South Dakota, Wisconsin and West Virginia — stopped performing abortions after Friday’s ruling.
In Ohio, the ban on most abortions at the first detectable fetal heartbeat became law when a federal judge dissolved an injunction that had suspended the measure for nearly three years. And Utah’s law was triggered by the ruling, going into effect with narrow exceptions.
Abortion haters cheered the decisionbut abortion rights supporters, including President Joe Biden, have expressed dismay and pledged to fight to restore rights.
Demonstrations built into the evening in a number of cities, including thousands of people against the decision in front of the barricaded Supreme Court. Thousands more chanted “We will rise!” in New York’s Washington Square.
At the White House, Biden said, “This is a sad day for the court and for the country.” He urged voters to make it a defining issue in the November election, saying: “This decision must not be the last word.”
Outside the White House, Ansley Cole, a college student from Atlanta, said she was “scared because what are they going to do next? … The next electoral cycle is going to be brutal, like terrifying. And if they do it again, what’s the next step? »
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of SBA Pro-Life America, agreed on the political issues.
“We are prepared to commit a lifetime offense in each of these legislative bodies, in each state and in the White House,” Dannenfelser said in a statement.
Trump hailed the decision, telling Fox News it “will work for everyone.”
The decision is expected to disproportionately affect minority women who already have limited access to health care, according to statistics analyzed by The Associated Press.
It also puts the court at odds with a majority of Americans who were in favor of preserving Roe, according to opinion polls.
Polls by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and others have shown a majority in favor of legalizing abortion in all or most circumstances. But many also support restrictions, especially later in pregnancy. Surveys consistently show that about 1 in 10 Americans want abortion to be illegal anyway.
The decision came more than a month after a staggering leak of a draft notice by Judge Samuel Alito indicating that the court was ready to take this momentous step.
Alito, in the final opinion issued on Fridaywrote that Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 decision that reaffirmed the right to abortion, was wrong and should be reversed.
“We therefore believe that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion. Roe and Casey must be rescinded and the power to regulate abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives,” Alito wrote, in a notice very similar to the leaked draft.
Thomas and judges Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett joined Alito. The final three judges are appointed by Trump. Thomas first voted to overrule Roe 30 years ago.
Four judges would have left Roe and Casey in place.
The vote was 6-3 to uphold Mississippi’s law banning most abortions after 15 weeks, but Chief Justice John Roberts did not join fellow conservatives in overthrowing Roe. He wrote that it was not necessary to overturn broad precedents to rule in favor of Mississippi.
Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan – the court’s diminished liberal wing – disagreed.
“With sadness – to this Court, but more so, to the millions of American women who have now lost fundamental constitutional protection – we disagree,” they wrote, warning that opponents of abortion may now pursue a nationwide “from the moment of conception” ban. and without exception for rape or incest.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement that the Justice Department will protect providers and those seeking abortions in states where it is legal and “will work with other branches of the federal government that seek to use their lawful authorities.” to protect and preserve access to reproductive care”. .”
In particular, Garland said the federal Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of mifepristone for medical abortions.
More than 90% of abortions take place during the first 13 weeks of pregnancy, and more than half are now performed with pills, not surgery, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports the right to abortion.
Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, which was at the center of Friday’s case, continued to see patients Friday. Outside, men used a megaphone to tell the people inside that they would burn in hell. Clinic escorts wearing colorful vests used large loudspeakers to blast Tom Petty’s ‘I Won’t Back Down’ to protesters.
Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky and Missouri are among 13 states, mostly in the South and Midwest, that already have laws in place to ban abortions if Roe is overturned. Another half dozen states have bans or near-total bans after 6 weeks of pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant.
In about half a dozen other states, including West Virginia and Wisconsin, the fight will be over dormant abortion bans that were enacted before Roe’s 1973 ruling or new proposals to sharply limit when abortions can be performed, according to Guttmacher.
Outside the barricaded Supreme Court, a crowd of mostly young women swelled into the hundreds in the hours following the ruling. Some shouted, “The Supreme Court is illegitimate,” while waves of others, wearing red shirts with “Pro-Life Generation Votes,” celebrated, danced and raised their arms in the air.
The Biden administration and other abortion rights advocates have warned that a decision overturning Roe would also threaten other High Court rulings in favor of gay rights and potentially even contraception.
The Liberal justices made the same point in their joint dissent: The majority “removes a 50-year-old constitutional right that protects women’s liberty and equality. It violates a fundamental principle of the rule of law, designed to promote consistency in law. By doing all of this, he jeopardizes other rights, from contraception to same-sex intimacy and marriage. And finally, it undermines the legitimacy of the Court.
And Thomas, the tribunal member most willing to abandon earlier rulings, wrote a separate opinion in which he explicitly called on his colleagues to bring the Court’s same-sex marriage, gay sex and contraception cases to the table. supreme.
But Alito maintained that his analysis was only about abortion. “Nothing in this opinion should be construed as challenging precedents that do not relate to abortion,” he wrote.
Regardless of the intentions of whoever leaked Alito’s draft opinion, the Tories held their ground to overthrow Roe and Casey.
In her view, Alito rejected arguments for upholding both rulings, including that several generations of American women have relied in part on abortion rights to gain economic and political power.
Changing the composition of the court has been central to the anti-abortion camp’s strategy, as dissidents have noted. “The Court is changing course today for one reason and one reason only: because the makeup of this Court has changed,” the liberal justices wrote.
Mississippi and its allies have made increasingly aggressive arguments as the case has evolved, and two abortion rights advocates in the high court have retired or died. The state initially argued that its law could be upheld without overriding court precedents on abortion.
Justice Anthony Kennedy retired shortly after the Mississippi law took effect in 2018 and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in September 2020. Both had been members of a five-judge majority that protected mainly the right to abortion.
In their Senate hearings, Trump’s three high court picks carefully sidestepped questions about how they would vote in any case, including on abortion.
Associated Press writers Jessica Gresko, Fatima Hussein, photographer Jacquelyn Martin and video journalist Nathan Ellgren in Washington, Alanna Durkin Richer in Boston, Emily Wagster Pettus in Jackson, Mississippi, Scott Bauer in Madison, Wisconsin, Leah Willingham in Charleston, West Virginia, Michael Hill in New York and Kantele Franko in Columbus, Ohio contributed to this report.
For full AP coverage of the Supreme Court’s decision on abortion, go to https://apnews.com/hub/abortion
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