[SIZE=16px]Roe [/SIZE][SIZE=7]v. Wade overturned by Supreme Court in landmark decision[/SIZE]
The Supreme Court decision ends nearly 50 years of federally guaranteed access to abortion and will have long-term consequences for reproductive health.
Author: Chris McCrory
Published: 10:16 AM EDT June 24, 2022
Updated: 10:20 AM EDT June 24, 2022
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade, the longtime legal precedent guaranteeing the right of legal abortion in the U.S.
The 6-3 ruling was handed down Friday morning, a major decision after months of protests and years of legal fighting over abortion rights in the country.
The court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was a determination of the constitutionality of a 2018 Mississippi law banning most abortions after the first 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Advocates on both sides of the abortion issue viewed the law as a vehicle to get the Supreme Court to reconsider the Roe precedent with a new conservative supermajority more likely to rule against abortion.
The decision is likely to have major ramifications across the U.S., where states are deeply divided on abortion, with a patchwork of laws and restrictions in many states. At least 13 have already passed so-called “trigger laws” that immediately take effect upon the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and at least another dozen states have older abortion laws on the books, although it is unclear when or how those will take effect.
Oklahoma recently passed the country’s most restrictive abortion ban, defining any abortion as illegal no matter the circumstances. The law’s only exceptions are to save the life of the mother or in the case of rape or incest that is reported to police. Even before the decision to overturn Roe, providers in the state said they would stop performing abortions after the law was signed by the state’s Republican governor.
Other states such as California have gone in the opposite direction, enshrining the right to an abortion in state law. Some Democrat-led states in the West and Northeast also are proposing public money for an expected influx of people traveling from other places to terminate pregnancies.
An association of abortion providers, the National Abortion Federation, gives health and travel information as well as money to pregnant women who have to travel to obtain an abortion. The federation’s chief program officer, Melissa Fowler, said many lives will be disrupted.
“The reality for many people in the country is going to be days of travel, days off of work,” Fowler said. “Even if we fully fund someone’s travel, some people’s lives just don’t allow them to make the trip.”
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Roe v. Wade has been the rule of law in the nation for nearly 50 years. The case, decided in January, 1973, dealt with the pregnancy of Norma McCorvey with her third child. McCorvey — referred to by the legal pseudonym “Jane Doe” — wanted an abortion, but lived in Texas, where the procedure was only allowed to save the mother’s life.
The Supreme Court ruled in McCorvey’s favor, determining that under the 14th Amendment, all women had a right to privacy that allowed them to make their own medical decisions.
The 7-2 decision has been a hotly debated legal battle ever since, with critics calling it judicial activism. The same right to privacy has been cited in other landmark cases including the right for gay people to marry.
Although a major departure from precedent that has ruled American life for decades, the ruling is not unexpected. With a 6-3 conservative supermajority, abortion rights advocates have been sounding the alarm about the threat to Roe since Judge Amy Coney Barrett was brought onto the court in the last days of President Donald Trump’s term.
In May, Politico released a leaked draft memo from the high court indicating a majority decision in the Dobbs case that found in favor of Mississippi’s law, overturning Roe and striking down the main argument in that case: the right to privacy.
The leak exacerbated the already fraught tensions in the nation regarding abortion, leading to protests outside of the Supreme Court and outside the homes of several justices.
Analysts have pointed out that the Supreme Court’s recent decision could undermine decisions such as the right to gay marriage, which were decided with the same legal framework using Roe as a base.
U.S. officials have indicated the ruling could lead to a rise in extremist violence in the U.S. from advocates on both sides of the issue, or from other types of extremists seeking to exploit tensions around the issue.
A memo to local government agencies from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis warned that the volatile environment in the U.S. around politics could erupt over the issue. The May 13 memo, obtained by the Associated Press, seeks to differentiate between illegal activity and the intense but legal outpouring of protests that are all but guaranteed when the Supreme Court issues its ruling at the end of its term this summer, regardless of the outcome.