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US Supreme Court Overturns Roe v Wade, Ending 50 Years of Abortion Rights

Restrictions on abortions are expected in about half of the states in the country, ruled by the Republican Party.

3 min read

Video Producer/Editor: Shohini Bose

The US Supreme Court on Friday, 24 June, overturned Roe v Wade, a landmark case that constitutionally protected abortion rights for almost 50 years.

Restrictions on abortions are expected in about half of the states in the country, ruled by the Republican Party.

The 6-3 judgement is bound to spark protests across the country, with all three justices appointed by Donald Trump - Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett - ruling with the majority.

Leading the majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the 1973 ruling must be overruled" because it is "egregiously wrong," and the arguments are "exceptionally weak" and so "damaging" that they amounted to "an abuse of judicial authority."

US President Joe Biden addressed the nation and said, "It is a sad day for the court and a sad day for the country...With Roe gone, the health and life of women in this nation is now at risk."

Calling the move a "tragic error," Biden added, "The court has done something it has never done before: expressly taken away a constitutional right for millions of Americans."

"A woman will be forced to bear her rapist’s child. It just stuns me," he said.


“Attacking the Essential Freedoms of Millions of Americans,” Says Former President Obama

Former US President Barack Obama reacted to the ruling, tweeting that "Today, the Supreme Court not only reversed nearly 50 years of precedent, it relegated the most intensely personal decision someone can make to the whims of politicians and ideologues—attacking the essential freedoms of millions of Americans."

A top abortion provider in the country named Planned Parenthood (from Planned Parenthood v Casey) has vowed that it will 'never stop fighting' for those in need, AFP reported.

In 2018, the state of Mississippi's legislative body, which is dominated by Republicans, passed a law that banned almost all abortions in the state if it could be determined that "the probable gestational age of the unborn human" was more than 15 weeks.

Gestation is the period of time between conception of the child and the birth of said child.

The only abortion clinic in the state – Jackson Women’s Health Organization – filed a complaint in the United States District Court for Mississippi’s Southern District, and the judge blocked the law, even citing Roe v Wade.

The state of Mississippi petitioned an appeal to the Supreme Court in June 2020.

The critical question was whether the US Constitution confers to the people a right to obtain an abortion. The Supreme Court has decided that it does not.


Summary of Roe v Wade (1973)

Norma McCorvey, who used the name "Jane Roe" in her lawsuit, discovered in June 1969 that she was pregnant.

She wrongly believed that Texas law allowed abortions in cases of rape, and went to an abortion clinic to falsely claim the same.

Unable to carry out her abortion, she sued the state of Texas, with the help of her lawyers Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington.

The defendant was the Dallas County District Attorney, a man named Henry Wade.

The district court judges ruled in Roe's favour, but the case reached the SCOTUS in 1970 on appeal.

The Supreme Court, by a vote of 7 to 2, ruled in favour of Roe and in the process, mandated a constitutional right of a woman to have an abortion, thereby nullifying many laws across the US that prohibited abortions.

The court said that state governments had no constitutional backing to ban abortions before the foetal viability period, and that outlawing abortions would violate a pregnant woman's right to privacy.

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Topics:  Roe v Wade 

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