By a 6-3 margin on Friday morning, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision which guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights.
Moving forward, such rights will now be determined by states… unless Congress steps in at some point to intervene.
Already, nearly half of the states in America have (or will pass) laws that ban abortion — while others have enacted strict measures regulating the procedure.
The majority party in the case — known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization — included votes from the Republican-appointed justices John Roberts … as well as Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett.
The three Democratic-appointed justices (Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan) made up the dissenting party.
In penning their official dissent, this trio wrote:
Today’s decision strips women of agency over what even the majority agrees is a contested and contestable moral issue. It forces her to carry out the State’s will… it takes away her liberty. We dissent.
An initial draft majority opinion signaling the overturning of Roe v. Wade was leaked to Politico in early May.
“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his majority opinion on Friday.
“Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences.
“And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.”
In their joint dissenting opinion, Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan added:
“With sorrow — for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection.”
Alito, for his part, included a list of cases that rested on a right to privacy, similar to Roe, but asserted that Roe was distinct from those cases because…
What sharply distinguishes the abortion right from the rights recognized in the cases on which Roe and Casey rely is something that both those decisions acknowledged:
Abortion destroys what those decisions call ‘potential life’ and what the law at issue in this case regards as the life of an ‘unborn human being.
To be clear:
This ruling does not end abortion rights entirely.
Some states have vowed to protect abortion access, and will likely become a safe haven for those seeking the procedures — who are able to afford to travel there, a key point.
It’s unclear how quickly the 22 states that already have laws limiting abortion will put their bans into effect and whether they will make exceptions for rape, incest or the health of the mother.
In his opinion, Alito took exception to the aforementioned dissent.
“The dissent is very candid that it cannot show that a constitutional right to abortion has any foundation, let alone a ‘deeply rooted’ one, ‘in this Nation’s history and tradition.'” he wrote.
“The dissent does not identify any pre-Roe authority that supports such a right — no state constitutional provision or statute, no federal or state judicial precedent, not even a scholarly treatise.”
In that four-page section, Alito emphasized that the dissent’s failure “engage with this long tradition is devastating to its position.”
“Today, the Supreme Court not only reversed nearly 50 years of precedent, it relegated the most intensely personal decision someone can make to the whims of politicians and ideologues — attacking the essential freedoms of millions of Americans.” Barack Obama posted on Twitter.
“Across the country, states have already passed bills restricting choice.
“If you’re looking for ways to respond, Planned Parenthood, United States of Women and many other groups have been sounding the alarm on this issue for years — and will continue to be on the front lines of this fight.”