Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade

Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade

by Kenna McCafferty

This morning, the Supreme Court came to a final decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. The draft opinion, first leaked in May, detailed the elimination of the constitutional right to abortion granted by the nearly 50-year-old Roe V. Wade decision. The ruling gives individual states the power to set their own abortion laws without violating the federal protections of Roe v. Wade, which permitted abortions during the first two trimesters of pregnancy.

The Supreme Court decision will fundamentally alter abortion access, and safety. Nearly half of the country is poised to immediately outlaw or severly restrict abortion following the ruling; 22 states have existing laws or constitutional amendments in place which can be used to ban abortion. These so-called "trigger laws" were established to ban abortion in the event that Roe was overturned, while other states already had abortion bans in place before the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

A dozen states have limited abortion bans in place, outlawing procedures after six weeks of pregnancy, which abortion-rights advocates argue is effectively the same as completely forbidding abortion, given most people are unaware of their pregnancy in the first six weeks.

This ruling solidifies a decades-long pursuit of the Republican party in appointing conservative justices to the highest court in the country — one of the defining legacies of Donald Trump's presidency — who appointed Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, all of whom counted among the 6:3 majority ruling alongside Justice Clarence Thomas, who was appointed by President George W Bush. Justice Samuel Alito penned the court majority, arguing that the 1973 ruling and repeated subsequent high court decisions affirming Roe “must be overruled” because they were “egregiously wrong,” with “exceptionally weak” arguments that were so “damaging” they amounted to “an abuse of judicial authority.” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote a separate concurring opinion.

Justices Stephen Breyer, appointed by President Clinton, and Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, appointed by President Obama authored the 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.

The decision contrasts distinctly against the American public’s position, where a recent SCOTUS Poll showed 62.3% of respondents opposed overturning Roe v. Wade.

Updates and actions continue to roll in as advocacy organizations and political progressives aim to counter the shocking, albeit expected decision. So far, Mayor Eric Adams offered New York City as a safe haven to Americans seeking abortions. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker promised to call a special session of the Legislature to protect the state’s reproductive rights and health protections. Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California commented that “the rights of women and all Americans are on the ballot this November.”

Across the aisle, GOP politicos celebrated the decision. Mitch McConnell, who arguably played a key role in this decision, commented that “millions of Americans have spent half a century praying, marching and working toward today’s historic victories for the rule of law and for innocent life. I have been proud to stand with them throughout our long journey and I share their joy today.” Former Vice President to Trump, Mike Pence, hailed the decision, saying “Today, Life Won.”

As states and individuals navigate the effects of overturning the monumental Roe v. Wade decision, the conversation continues and will likely feature heavily in the upcoming midterm election cycle.

Photo via Getty/ Mark Reinstein/ Corbis