US Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade – Revokes Citizens' Constitutional Right to Abortion – Abandons Over 50 Years of Precedent
The United States Supreme Court revoked the US citizens' constitutional right to abortion, leaving individual States free to ban outright or severely limit the right to abortion, that American women have had since 1973.
Roe vs Wade:
The landmark ruling struck down laws that made abortion illegal in several States. It held that abortion would be legal up to the time after which a foetus can survive outside the womb, also known as foetal viability. It recognized that the right to personal privacy under the U.S. Constitution protects a woman's ability to terminate her pregnancy.
Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania vs Casey:
In this landmark judgment, the Supreme Court reaffirmed abortion rights and prohibited laws imposing an "undue burden" on abortion access.
In 2018, the Republican-majority legislature of Mississippi banned most abortions after 15 weeks, which is much before foetal viability. This was a direct contradiction of the ruling in Roe vs Wade.
SUPREME COURT DECISION:
The Court's decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization upheld the Mississippi Law.
The majority opinion declared that Roe vs Wade and later abortion-rights precedents have no basis in the American Constitution.
Majority opinion by Justice Samuel Alito:
Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the majority opinion that Roe vs Wade was egregiously wrong from the start. He stated that "Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences… It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people's elected representatives."
Conferring rights to individual States to regulate abortion rights, he stated that "The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives."
Concurrence by Chief Justice John Roberts:
Commenting on the judgment passed in Roe vs Wade, Chief Justice John Roberts said that "The Court's opinion is thoughtful and thorough, but those virtues cannot compensate for the fact that its dramatic and consequential ruling is unnecessary to decide the case before us… Both the Court's opinion and the dissent display a relentless freedom from doubt on the legal issue that I cannot share."
Concurrence by Justice Clarence Thomas:
Justice Thomas said that "In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court's substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell."
It is important to note that the judgments granted crucial human rights to American citizens.
Griswold vs Connecticut upheld the right of a married person to obtain contraceptives.
Lawrence vs Texas upheld the right to engage in private consensual sexual acts.
Obergefell vs Hodges upheld the right to same-sex marriage.
Concurrence by Justice Brett Kavanaugh:
He clarified that the decision does not outlaw abortion in the United States, and it only properly leaves the question of abortion for the people and their elected representatives in the democratic process.
Dissent by Justice Stephen Breyer, Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Elena Kagan:
In their scathing dissent, the liberal justices wrote that "The majority has overruled Roe and Casey for one and only one reason: because it has always despised them, and now it has the votes to discard them. The majority thereby substitutes a rule by judges for the rule of law."
Commenting on women's right to equality and freedom, the dissenting Justices said that "The majority would allow States to ban abortion from conception onward because it does not think forced childbirth at all implicates a woman's rights to equality and freedom."
President Joe Biden said that "The court has done what it has never done before: expressly taken away a constitutional right that is so fundamental to so many Americans. It's a realisation of an extreme ideology and a tragic error by the Supreme Court in my view", while also adding that the ruling was taking America back by 150 years.
The President urged abortion debate activists to keep all protests peaceful, while warning that the abortion ruling may undermine contraception and gay marriage rights.
The Court's decision will likely lead to half of the States immediately taking action to ban abortion outright, forcing people to to carry pregnancies against their will or travel hundreds of miles to access abortion care, which are both a grave violation of their human rights.