The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) on Friday in a 6:3 majority overturned its 50-year-old ruling in Roe v Wade - the landmark ruling that legalised abortion. The decision of the SCOTUS will prove to be a severe blow to women's right over their bodily autonomy, allowing several states to introduce their own laws that regulate abortion.
In fact, in anticipation of today's judgment, at least 13 states had passed anti-abortion "trigger laws" that would kick in once Roe v Wade was overturned. Several other states moved to advance the ban on abortion once the draft majority opinion of the Supreme Court judges indicating their intention to overturn Roe was leaked last month in May.
Earlier this week, even the Supreme Court of Iowa state overruled its own 2018 ruling and said that one couldn't use the state's constitution to claim abortion as a fundamental right.
"Roe was egregiously wrong from the start," Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his majority opinion. "Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division," he added.
Justice Alito was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. Chief Justice John Roberts penned his own concurring judgment. Three others – Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan dissented.
"Like the infamous decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, Roe was also egregiously wrong and on a collision course with the Constitution from the day it was decided," Justice Alito wrote. "A right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation's history and traditions," he added.
"On the contrary, an unbroken tradition of prohibiting abortion on pain of criminal punishment persisted from the earliest days of the common law until 1973," the majority opinion read.
While US President Joe Biden was slated to deliver his remarks at the time this story was published, Mayor Eric Adams offered New York City as a safe haven for women seeking an abortion.
Former US President Barack Obama tweeted, "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."
What does this mean for women in the US?
Several states in the US had enacted trigger laws all but banning abortion once Roe V Wade was overturned. This will make it difficult for women to get abortion in states like Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Mississippi, and several others.
Texas Governor Greg Abott on May 19 signed off on the "Texas Heartbeat Bill" banning abortions at six weeks or as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected—even before women know they could be pregnant. There are no exceptions for pregnancies arising out of rape or incest. The sole exception is in the event of medical emergencies only.
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