U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade

The U.S. Supreme Court. File photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 24, 2022 (UPI) — In perhaps the most anticipated ruling in recent memory, the conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court on Friday — as expected — handed down a decision that overturned its 1973 opinion in Roe vs. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide.

The 6-3 decision by the court, which saw Chief Justice John Roberts side with the conservative majority, eliminates the federally protected right to abortion procedures and states looking to restrict access to the medical procedure are expected to move quickly to criminalize it.

While the ruling itself does not outlaw abortion, it pushes the decision on its legality back to individual states.

“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Associate Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the decision. “The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely — the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

Alito writes that any right the due process clause protects must be “‘deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition’ and ‘implicit in the concept of ordered liberty.'”

In returning the decision on abortion rights to individual states, Alito said the Court has moved to “heed the Constitution.”

The Supreme Court’s decision now makes the issue of abortion one for each state to decide. More progressive states like California and New York have laws protecting abortion — while conservative states like Texas and Oklahoma have already taken steps to ban the procedure.

Some states had laws-in-waiting that would ban abortions outright as soon as the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade.

The court ruled in favor of a 2018 Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The case was argued before the Supreme Court in December.

The decision was widely expected after a version of the opinion leaked almost two months ago indicated that the six conservative justices were preparing to strike down the 49-year-old law.

It’s still unknown who released the draft opinion to the press — but the court is investigating the leak, which is extremely rare for Supreme Court opinions.

The other five justices to join Alito were Clarence Thomas, who was appointed by former President George H.W. Bush, and Neil GorsuchBrett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, all of whom were nominated by former President Donald Trump, and Chief Justice John Roberts, who was nominated by former President George W. Bush.

Stephen Breyer, who was nominated by former President Bill Clinton, and Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, who were nominated by former President Barack Obama, dissented.

The leak of the opinion in May set off a wave of protests by abortion-rights activists outside the Supreme Court and even some of the justices’ homes. A man was arrested and charged earlier this month after he was caught near Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s Maryland home. Police said he’d planned to kill Kavanaugh over the abortion decision.

In the case, Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch asked the Supreme Court to review Roe vs. Wade as part of her office’s fight to defend the state’s abortion law in July. The office filed a brief saying the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling failed to settle “the issue of abortion once and for all.”

“All it did was establish a special-rules regime for abortion jurisprudence that has left these cases out of step with other court decisions and neutral principles of law applied by the court,” Fitch said.

“As a result, state legislatures, and the people they represent, have lacked clarity in passing laws to protect legitimate public interests, and artificial guideposts have stunted important public debate on how we, as a society, care for the dignity of women and their children. It is time for the court to set this right and return this political debate to the political branches of government.”

The brief said the only way to reconcile the “competing interests” is to return the matter to legislators, not judges.

Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Organization, sued the state after Bryant signed the ban into law. It made exceptions for medical emergencies and “severe fetal abnormality,” but not cases of incest or rape.

A federal judge in Mississippi struck down the law in late 2018 and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that ruling in December 2019.

The U.S. Supreme Court enshrined the legal right to an abortion in the United States in the landmark 1973 Roe vs. Wade ruling.


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