- The US Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade, the 1993 landmark case which protected the constitutional right to abortion.
- Roe since 1973, had permitted abortion before ‘viability’ Or ‘capability of meaningful life outside mother’s womb’, which occurs at about 24 weeks.
- The ruling gives states the right to decide whether to allow or ban abortion.
- Almost half of the states in the US are expected to outlaw or introduce new restrictions.
On Friday, 24 June, the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case which legalized abortion around 50 years back.
Now millions of US women no longer have the constitutional right to seek an abortion.
The court took on the issue of abortion in this way by agreeing to the lawsuit of (Dobbs vs. Jackson women’s health Organization) the sole abortion clinic in Mississippi, which challenged the ban on abortion beyond 15 weeks of pregnancy.
So, the court upholds Mississippi’s ban on abortion beyond 15 weeks, with few medical exceptions, and struck down the Roe V. Wade.
Five justices who were firmly in favor of the decision – Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Amy Coney Barrett.
The three justices who disagreed with the majority were – Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan.
What was Roe V. Wade?
The case is sometimes simply referred to as ‘Roe’, where Jane Roe (a fictional name for Norma McCorvey, used in court to protect her identity) filled a lawsuit against Henry Wade, the Dallas County (Texas) district attorney at that time enforcing abortion laws as the defendant, where she resided. She challenged a Texas law that made abortion illegal, except for the situation were doctors ordered to save the life of women.
At that time Roe was expecting her third child and hoping for a quick abortion but she won the case in 1973, by the time she had already given birth. She argued that abortion laws went against the US constitution because they violated a woman’s right to privacy.
Each state to Decide
Abortion is now illegal or severely restricted in many US states, as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision.
The decision gives individual states the choice of banning or allowing abortion. Half of the US states are expected to opt to the ban or substantially restrict access to abortion. Some states have made exceptions to allow abortion to save the life of mothers, while some have exceptions to their ban for the cases of incest or rape.
As many as 13 states (Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming) already have ‘Trigger Laws’ that are expected to go into effect immediately or quick state officials’ or attorney general’s action if Roe no longer applies.
The Supreme Court’s earth-shaking ruling has sparked a host of legal battles. The ruling sent seismic waves throughout the nation as abortion-rights opponents celebrated their winning a decades-long battle, while abortion-rights supporters set up a nationwide protest.