The United States Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, has overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenhood vs. Casey, overturning five decades of judicial precedent that had guaranteed a woman’s right to an abortion.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion, which holds that “(t)he Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely — the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
“That provision has been held to guarantee some rights that are not mentioned in the Constitution, but any such right must be ‘deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition’ and ’implicit in the concept of ordered liberty.”
“It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives,” Alito wrote.
In a joint dissent, the court’s three liberal justices – Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan – blasted the decision that, they wrote, “says that from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of.”
“A State can force her to bring a pregnancy to term, even at the steepest personal and familial costs,” the dissenters wrote.
″An abortion restriction, the majority holds, is permissible whenever rational, the lowest level of scrutiny known to the law. And because, as the Court has often stated, protecting fetal life is rational, States will feel free to enact all manner of restrictions.”
The case at the heart of the decision, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, involved a Mississippi law that would ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
The ruling in the case will allow states to enact their own laws regarding abortion.
Thirteen states already have laws on the books that ban abortion, and six additional states have near-total bans or prohibitions after six weeks of pregnancy.
More than half of abortions are now done with pills, not surgery, according to data compiled by Guttmacher.
State legislative efforts to ban those types of abortions have been under way in several states, those efforts getting going in anticipation of today’s ruling.
Overturning Roe v. Wade also opens the door for states to attempt to restrict or ban common birth control methods.
These moves are ongoing in the face of public-opinion surveys that show nearly two-thirds of Americans supported the Roe decision that had established a woman’s right to an abortion.
But what Americans want doesn’t matter that much in the America that 2016 brought us. Then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court for nine months in 2016, saying that it wouldn’t be fair to confirm the nominee from then-President Barack Obama because it was an election year, giving the next president, Donald Trump one pick, who turned out to be Neil Gorsuch.
And then, upon the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in September 2020, McConnell rushed through the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett ahead of the November 2020 election.
Today’s 6-3 majority included Gorsuch and Coney Barrett, and a third Trump nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.
U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA)
“This decision jeopardizes the health and autonomy of millions of American women and turns back the clock on nearly 50 years of settled and reaffirmed law – reflecting a Court that has increasingly issued politicized rulings that undermine the fundamental rights of Americans. This decision will take control over personal health care decisions away from individuals and give it to politicians in state legislatures across the country. I am heartbroken for the generations of women who now have fewer rights than when they were born, many of whom will be forced into life-threatening or prohibitively expensive circumstances to access health care as a result of this radical decision. For them and for all Virginians and Americans, I will continue working to protect needed access to safe, legal abortion.”
U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA)
“I am deeply disturbed that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, upsetting decades of precedent protecting the right of women to make fundamental personal decisions about contraception and abortion without unnecessary government interference. That’s why I’ve been engaged in efforts in the Senate to codify the basic framework of Roe v. Wade and related cases into federal law. We’re not going to give up on the fight to protect the right to choose.”
Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA-02)
“The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is a rollback of the rights of women in the United States. A woman’s right to choose should be made between a woman, her health care provider, and her faith. For the first time in our nation’s history, today’s women have less freedoms than previous generations.
“This decision is further proof that we need to enshrine reproductive freedom protections into federal law to protect Americans from government overreach and restore the rights of women across the country. I will continue to be an advocate in Congress for women and fight to protect the rights of all Americans, including the right to choose.”
Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07)
“As a mother, sister, and daughter, I know how today’s ruling feels for millions of women throughout America. I strongly disagree with the majority’s decision, as it undermines the right to privacy and a woman’s right to choose.
“In response to this decision, there will be a renewed push among anti-abortion politicians to strip away fundamental liberties from the people they were elected to serve. As a federal lawmaker, I will work to restore a woman’s right to choose and protect our rights under the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.
“In the wake of today’s ruling, it falls on all of us to defend our neighbors, protect all rights enshrined under the right to privacy, and make sure women are never criminalized for making decisions about their own bodies. Rather than punish America’s women, lawmakers must stand with them. And rather than pursue extreme new laws, our elected officials must remember their obligation to protect our basic rights. Today is a dark day, but it cannot be the end of our efforts.”