Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, ending right to abortion upheld for decades
In a historic and far-reaching decision, the U.S. Supreme Court officially reversed Roe v. Wade on Friday, declaring that the constitutional right to abortion, upheld for nearly a half century, no longer exists.
Writing for the court majority, Justice Samuel Alito said that the 1973 Roe ruling and repeated subsequent high court decisions reaffirming Roe “must be overruled” because they were “egregiously wrong,” the arguments “exceptionally weak” and so “damaging” that they amounted to “an abuse of judicial authority.”
The decision, most of which was leaked in early May, means that abortion rights will be rolled back in nearly half of the states immediately, with more restrictions likely to follow. For all practical purposes, abortion will not be available in large swaths of the country. The decision may well mean too that the court itself, as well as the abortion question, will become a focal point in the upcoming fall elections and in the fall and thereafter.
Joining the Alito opinion were Justice Clarence Thomas, appointed by the first President Bush, and the three Trump appointees — Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. Chief Justice John Roberts, appointed by President George W. Bush, concurred in the judgment only, and would have limited the decision to upholding the Mississippi law at issue in the case, which banned abortions after 15 weeks. Calling the decision “a serious jolt to the legal system,” he said that both the majority and dissent displayed “a relentless freedom from doubt on the legal issue that I cannot share.”
Dissenting were Justices Stephen Breyer, appointed by President Clinton, and Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, appointed by President Obama. The said that the court decision means that “young women today will come of age with fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers.” Indeed, they said the court’s opinion means that “from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of. A state can force her to bring a pregnancy to term even at the steepest personal and familial costs.”
“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.