WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, a landmark 1973 court ruling that established abortion as a constitutional right, that revokes the right from women and shifts authority over the procedure to the states.
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” the majority opinion said.
States across the country will now have the legal authority to ban abortion outright for the first time in 50 years. Thirteen states are already positioned to do so with “trigger laws” in place that will activate with the end of Roe. They are: Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wyoming. Additional states are preparing to do the same or to pass restrictions that will strictly limit access to abortion.
The decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization marks the culmination of a decades-long legal and political battle waged by abortion opponents to whittle away at Roe and ultimately defeat it. Advocates of Roe say the new decision goes against the will of the American public, a majority of which opposes a full repeal of the ruling, and leaves them with little recourse to protect reproductive rights for millions of women in many politically conservative states across the country.
Still, states that remain supportive of abortion, including California and New York, are working on safe-haven laws that will expand the right and protect women traveling from out of state in search of the procedure.
The Dobbs decision could also upend a legal framework establishing a right to privacy that undergirds decades of jurisprudence, including court rulings that enshrined rights to contraception, sexual intimacy and marriage. And it is certain to play a major role in not just this year’s midterm elections, but in state and federal races for years to come, where candidates will have to debate and campaign on a new set of rules governing the procedure.
Justice Samuel Alito, appointed to the court by President George W. Bush, wrote the majority opinion, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, appointed by President George H. W. Bush, as well as Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, all appointed by President Donald Trump.
A leaked draft of Alito’s opinion, published by Politico in May, previewed the end of Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 precedent that upheld it. The leak prompted a national uproar and deep distrust at the court in the final weeks of its term. A recent assassination attempt against Kavanaugh by an opponent of the draft decision prompted federal law enforcement to provide each justice with round-the-clock security.
The final decision was revealed through a posting online — an unusual turn for a court that traditionally sees its draft opinions and dissents read aloud from the court bench. The court cited coronavirus pandemic protocols for the change.