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Key Takeaways

  • The Supreme Court of the US has overruled the Roe v. Wade judgement.
  • The Majority opinion held that there is no constitutional right to abortion in the USA.
  • States are given the power to decide on abortion.
  • The Roe Judgment granted autonomy to women for abortion.

Introduction

As a result of the US Supreme Court's decision to overturn a 50-year-old decision that legalised abortion in all 50 states, millions of women are anticipated to lose their ability to obtain an abortion. The Supreme Court invalidated the precedent-setting Roe v. Wade [410 US 113] decision on June 24, 2022, by a 5-4 vote. Abortion rights in the US will change as a result of the ruling because individual states can now outlaw the procedure. New limitations or bans are anticipated in half of the US states. Following the Supreme Court's decision, 13 states have already implemented so-called trigger laws that will instantly criminalise abortion. Others will probably immediately enact further limits.The Missouri attorney general swiftly issued an opinion activating the state's "trigger" statute, effectively banning abortion except in cases of a medical emergency, following the Supreme Court's ruling on Friday, according to The New York Times.

The majority opinion was delivered by Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. Chief Justice John Roberts, together with Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, were the only justices to vote against overturning Roe v. Wade. By a vote of 6-3, the Supreme Court upheld a Mississippi statute that forbids abortions when a foetus is more than 15 weeks old. While voting against overturning Roe v. Wade, Chief Justice Roberts supported the statute.

The Majority opinion held that the constitution of the US has no reference to abortion, and thus is not a constitutional right, and therefore the power to regulate abortion is given to the people and elected individuals, thereby effectively empowering the states with autonomy to make independent decisions regarding abortion.

After Roe v. Wade was overturned, President Joe Biden referred to it as a sad day for the court and the nation. He declared from the White House, "Now that Roe is gone, let's be quite clear, the health and lives of women across this country are now in danger." "The court has done what it's never done before," he continued, "explicitly taking away a constitutional right that is so vital to so many Americans."

What is Roe v Wade

The plaintiff in the famous American court case Roe v. Wade was Norma Leah Nelson McCorvey, also known by the alias "Jane Roe." The defendant, Henry Wade, was serving as the district attorney for Dallas County (Texas) at the time. In that famous ruling, known as "Roe," the laws that forbade abortion in various US states were overturned. According to the verdict, abortions would be permitted up until foetal viability. A foetus's capacity to thrive outside of a woman's womb is known as its viability. Foetal viability was around 28 weeks old at the time of the ruling (7 months). Today, about 50 years later, with advancements in medical research, 23 to 24 weeks are regarded as the viability period. In Texas, Jane Roe became pregnant with her third child in 1969, but she was unable to get an abortion since it was illegal in her state except in situations when it was necessary to "save a woman's life." She was assisted by attorneys Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee, who asserted that the state's abortion regulations were unconstitutional and sued her local district attorney, Henry Wade, on her behalf in federal court.

Her victory at the hands of the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas was appealed by Texas to the Supreme Court. The 14th Amendment's "right to privacy," which safeguards a woman's right to obtain an abortion, was a factor in the Supreme Court's 7-2 ruling in Ms. McCorvey's favour.

Before the case was heard, Ms McCorvey gave birth because she could not access legal abortion, and the child was then placed for adoption. She claimed to have done it "on behalf of herself and all other women" at the time who were in a comparable circumstance.

Additionally, the ruling established a legal standard that had an impact on more than 30 other Supreme Court cases addressing restrictions on access to abortion. Right-wing legal organisations and conservative Christian movements have vowed for decades to overturn Roe. Amy Coney Barrett, the most recent justice to join the Supreme Court, increased the number of conservative justices on the court from three to six. Mr Trump appointed Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch as two additional conservative judges throughout his administration.

Constitutionality of the Roe Decision

According to the judgment, a woman's right to an abortion is protected by the US Constitution without overbearing government interference. The "essential holding" in the Roe decision was upheld by the Supreme Court in the 1992 case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey [505 US 833 (1992)], which also outlawed legal restrictions that "unduly hinder" access to abortion. The Texas legislation that prohibits most abortions at six weeks of pregnancy—before most women are aware they are pregnant—was being challenged in court, and the high court on January 20 turned down abortion providers' plea to intervene.

The Aftermath of Roe v. Wade

Federal safeguards for women who want to have an abortion were created by the Roe v. Wade decision. The decision ultimately granted women complete autonomy to end a pregnancy during the first trimester and permitted some state influence over abortions in the second and third trimesters, despite a number of state-level restrictions, many of which have been challenged in court, that sought to undermine access to abortion care. The court's ruling in Roe v. Wade established that the decision to have an abortion ultimately pertains to Americans' right to privacy, which they determined to be a component of the liberty protected by the US Constitution's 14th Amendment.

Conclusion

As a consequence of Roe v. Wade being overturned, abortion bans have been brought in thirteen states, albeit the statutes' implementation dates differ. For instance, Louisiana has a trigger law that can come into effect right away. A trigger prohibition is in place in Idaho, and it takes effect in 30 days.

Other states have abortion restrictions that were in place prior to the Roe decision but have now become inoperative. The Pre-Roe ban in Michigan is currently being challenged in court. In another group of states, abortions are wanted to be prohibited very early in pregnancy, frequently before women are even aware that they are expecting. One of these states is Georgia, where abortions are prohibited after six weeks. Several states, including Texas, have numerous bans in place.

With the majority of countries heading toward liberalisation, the United States is now in the minority after the Supreme Court overturned a right that had been recognised for 50 years. A very popular study by revered economists Steven Levitt and John Donohue argued that legalised abortions had brought down the crime rate in the US to an all-time low.Nevertheless, the cultural battle will undoubtedly continue even though many people view abortion as a necessary form of medical care.


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