WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a controversial landmark decision Friday, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on a vote of 5 to 4, declaring after nearly 50 years of the decision being in effect that there is not a federal constitutional right for women to receive an abortion. The decision makes the matter of abortion rights to now be determined by states, unless Congress acts and codifies the protections of Roe v. Wade into law.
Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the court majority, said that the decision 1973 Roe case that granted federal protections to abortion-seekers “must be overruled” because they were “egregiously wrong,” the arguments “exceptionally weak” and so “damaging” that they amounted to “an abuse of judicial authority.”
Almost half of U.S. states are expected to outlaw or severely restrict abortion as a result of the decision, which was the end result of a Mississippi case known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Many of these abortion bans will involve so-called “trigger bans,” laws passed by anti-abortion legislators in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s action that will automatically go into effect upon the official decision to scrap Roe V. Wade.
On May 2, Politico released a first draft of a majority opinion written by Justice Alito, indicating that the Court would eventually be overturning Roe v. Wade. The leaking of the draft opinion was considered unheard of, with Chief Justice Roberts describing the incident as a “betrayal of the confidences of the Court.”
Upon news of the ruling on Friday, conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas – in a separately-written opinion – also called for the overturning of decisions regarding the right to same-sex marriage and the right to contraception.
President Joe Biden reacted to the news, stating that the Supreme Court’s ruling “cannot be the final word” and said that his administration will do whatever it can to protect the reproductive rights of women. He also urged Congress to codify the protections from Roe V. Wade into law, and declared that any protesting over the decision should be kept civil.
“My administration will use all of its appropriate lawful powers. Congress must act, and with your vote, you can act,” he said. “I call on everyone no matter how deeply they care about this decision to keep all protests peaceful…peaceful, peaceful, peaceful. No intimidation. Violence is never acceptable. Threats and intimidation are not speech.”
Biden later said that his administration will protect the rights of women to travel from states that ban abortion to those where it remains legal, and also promised to protect access to abortion-related medications.