SCOTUS Overturns Roe V. Wade 06/25 07:53
The Supreme Court on Friday stripped away women's constitutional protections
for abortion, a fundamental and deeply personal change for Americans' lives
after nearly a half-century under Roe v. Wade. The court's overturning of the
landmark court ruling is likely to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court on Friday stripped away women's
constitutional protections for abortion, a fundamental and deeply personal
change for Americans' lives after nearly a half-century under Roe v. Wade. The
court's overturning of the landmark court ruling is likely to lead to abortion
bans in roughly half the states.
The ruling, unthinkable just a few years ago, was the culmination of decades
of efforts by abortion opponents, made possible by an emboldened right side of
the court fortified by three appointees of former President Donald Trump.
Both sides predicted the fight over abortion would continue, in state
capitals, in Washington and at the ballot box. Justice Clarence Thomas, part of
Friday's majority, urged colleagues to overturn other high court rulings
protecting same-sex marriage, gay sex and the use of contraceptives.
Pregnant women considering abortions already had been dealing with a
near-complete ban in Oklahoma and a prohibition after roughly 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 decision.
In Ohio, a ban on most abortions at the first detectable fetal heartbeat
became the law when a federal judge dissolved an injunction that had kept the
measure on hold for nearly three years. And Utah's law was triggered by the
ruling, going into effect with narrow exceptions.
Abortion foes cheered the ruling, but abortion-rights supporters, including
President Joe Biden, expressed dismay and pledged to fight to restore the
Protests built into the evening in a number of cities, including thousands
demonstrating against the decision outside the barricaded Supreme Court.
Thousands more chanted "We will rise up!" in New York's Washington Square.
At the White House, Biden said, "It's a sad day for the court and for the
country." He urged voters to make it a defining issue in the November
elections, declaring, "This decision must not be the final word."
Outside the White House, Ansley Cole, a college student from Atlanta, said
she was "scared because what are they going to come after next? ... The next
election cycle is going to be brutal, like it's terrifying. And if they're
going to do this, again, what's next?"
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of SBA Pro-Life America, agreed about the
"We are ready to go on offense for life in every single one of those
legislative bodies, in each statehouse and the White House," Dannenfelser said
in a statement.
Trump praised the ruling, telling Fox News that it "will work out for
The decision is expected to disproportionately affect minority women who
already face 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 favored
preserving Roe, according to opinion polls.
Surveys conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs
Research and others have shown a majority in favor of abortion being legal 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 in all cases.
The ruling came more than a month after the stunning leak of a draft opinion
by Justice Samuel Alito indicating the court was prepared to take this
Alito, in the final opinion issued Friday, wrote that Roe and Planned
Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 decision that reaffirmed the right to abortion,
were wrong had and to be be overturned.
"We therefore hold that the Constitution does not confer a right to
abortion. Roe and Casey must be overruled, and the authority to regulate
abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives,"
Alito wrote, in an opinion that was very similar to the leaked draft.
Joining Alito were Thomas and Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy
Coney Barrett. The last three justices are Trump appointees. Thomas first voted
to overrule Roe 30 years ago.
Four justices 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 didn't join his conservative colleagues
in overturning Roe. He wrote that there was no need to overturn the broad
precedents to rule in Mississippi's favor.
Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan -- the diminished
liberal wing of the court -- were in dissent.
"With sorrow -- for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American
women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection -- we
dissent," they wrote, warning that abortion opponents now could pursue a
nationwide ban "from the moment of conception and without exceptions for rape
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 "work with other arms of the federal government that seek to
use their lawful authorities to protect and preserve access to reproductive
In particular, Garland said the federal Food and Drug Administration has
approved the use of Mifepristone for medication abortions.
More than 90% of abortions take place in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy,
and more than half are now done with pills, not surgery, according to the
Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.
Mississippi's only abortion clinic, which was at the center of Friday's
case, continued to see patients Friday. Outside, men used a bullhorn to tell
people inside that they would burn in hell. Clinic escorts wearing colorful
vests used large speakers to blast Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down" at the
Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky and Missouri are among 13 states, mainly in
the South and Midwest, that already have laws on the books to ban abortion in
the event Roe was overturned. Another half-dozen states have near-total bans or
prohibitions after 6 weeks of pregnancy, before many women know they are
In roughly a half-dozen other states, including West Virginia and Wisconsin,
the fight will be over dormant abortion bans that were enacted before Roe was
decided in 1973 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 grew
into the hundreds within hours of the decision. Some shouted, "The Supreme
Court is illegitimate," while waves of others, wearing red shirts with "The
Pro-Life Generation Votes," celebrated, danced and thrust their arms into the
The Biden administration and other defenders of abortion rights have warned
that a decision overturning Roe also would threaten other high court decisions
in favor of gay rights and even potentially contraception.
The liberal justices made the same point in their joint dissent: The
majority "eliminates a 50-year-old constitutional right that safeguards women's
freedom and equal station. It breaches a core rule-of-law principle, designed
to promote constancy in the law. In doing all of that, it places in jeopardy
other rights, from contraception to same-sex intimacy and marriage. And
finally, it undermines the Court's legitimacy."
And Thomas, the member of the court most open to jettisoning prior
decisions, wrote a separate opinion in which he explicitly called on his
colleagues to put the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage, gay sex and
contraception cases on the table.
But Alito contended that his analysis addresses abortion only. "Nothing in
this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not
concern abortion," he wrote.
Whatever the intentions of the person who leaked Alito's draft opinion, the
conservatives held firm in overturning Roe and Casey.
In his opinion, Alito dismissed the arguments in favor of retaining the two
decisions, including that multiple generations of American women have partly
relied on the right to abortion to gain economic and political power.
Changing the makeup of the court has been central to the anti-abortion
side's strategy, as the dissenters archly noted. "The Court reverses course
today for one reason and one reason only: because the composition of this Court
has changed," the liberal justices wrote.
Mississippi and its allies made increasingly aggressive arguments as the
case developed, and two high-court defenders of abortion rights retired or
died. The state initially argued that its law could be upheld without
overruling the court's abortion precedents.
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-justice majority that was mainly protective of abortion
In their Senate hearings, Trump's three high-court picks carefully skirted
questions about how they would vote in any cases, including about abortion.