(The Center Square) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that prevented states from banning abortion.
The court ruled 6-3 in Dobbs v. Jackson that there is no Constitutional right to an abortion and that it is therefore up to each state to decide how to handle the issue. About half of U.S. states have laws on the books that will place tighter restrictions on abortion than what Roe allowed.
“The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled, and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives,” a syllabus of the ruling reads.
The high court called the Roe v. Wade ruling “egregiously wrong.”
“Like the infamous decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, Roe was also egregiously wrong and on a collision course with the Constitution from the day it was decided,” the majority opinion from Justice Samuel Alito said. “Casey perpetuated its errors, calling both sides of the national controversy to resolve their debate, but in doing so, Casey necessarily declared a winning side. Those on the losing side – those who sought to advance the State’s interest in fetal life – could no longer seek to persuade their elected representatives to adopt policies consistent with their views. The Court short-circuited the democratic process by closing it to the large number of Americans who disagreed with Roe.”
Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan vehemently opposed the ruling in their joint 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.
President Joe Biden said from the White House Friday that the fight for abortion rights nationwide is not over.
“I believe Roe v. Wade was the correct decision as a matter of constitutional law and application of the fundamental right to privacy and liberty and matters of family and personal autonomy,” Biden said. “It’s a sad day for our country but it doesn’t mean the fight is over.”
The decision sparked massive protests at the Supreme Court and elsewhere around the country.
Several states have already lined up legislation to restrict abortion in anticipation of this ruling.
“Finally, the Court considers whether a right to obtain an abortion is part of a broader entrenched right that is supported by other precedents,” the ruling said. “The Court concludes the right to obtain an abortion cannot be justified as a component of such a right. Attempts to justify abortion through appeals to a broader right to autonomy and to define one’s ‘concept of existence’ prove too much.”
The case in question began with a legal challenge to a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks. Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch last year requested that the Supreme Court use that case to overturn Roe v. Wade.
The ruling comes after the court last year allowed a Texas law to stand that banned abortions after six weeks when a baby’s heartbeat is detectable.
A leak from the Supreme Court in the spring indicated Roe v. Wade could be overturned, sparking controversy and leading to protests outside multiple Justices’ homes and a failed assassination attempt against Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Fencing and barricades were erected around the court, and law enforcement presence increased after the leak. Demonstrators on both sides gathered outside the court all week along with law enforcement in anticipation of the ruling.
Pro-life advocates celebrated the ruling.
“Laws across the country can now affirm that life is a human right and ensure women have greater access to the support and resources they need and deserve,” Alliance Defending Freedom General Counsel Kristen Waggoner said.
Now, the energy on abortion will likely ramp up at the state level, where each state government can now decide how to handle the controversial issue.
“We now turn to the states to ensure that unborn children and their mothers are protected from the gruesome reality of abortion and that they receive the care and resources they need to flourish,” Waggoner said. “Mississippi asked the court to overturn Roe because that case was egregiously wrong and had no basis in constitutional text, structure, or history. Additionally, Roe’s changing standards have long been unworkable, which is why so many pro-life laws ended up in court. It also failed to account for changing science, which demonstrates that life begins at conception. Today is a day of celebration, but the battle continues, as states either respect or shirk their responsibility to protect the life and health of women and children.”