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US Supreme Court rolls back abortion rights after 50 years

InternationalUS Supreme Court rolls back abortion rights after 50 years

US president Joe Biden says that the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade has pointed the country down an “extreme and dangerous” path and that rights surrounding contraception and same-sex marriage may be targeted next.

By Khaila Gentle

WASHINGTON D.C., Sun. June 26, 2022

After a historic ruling in which the US Supreme Court decided that the constitutional right to abortion within the country no longer exists, more than twenty-five states are expected to either fully outlaw or severely limit abortions.

“The constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision,” wrote Justice Samuel Alito who, along with four other conservative justices made up the majority vote to overturn Roe v Wade—the landmark court decision from fifty years ago that made abortion a constitutional right. Three of the justices who make up that majority—Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett—were appointed by former US president Donald J. Trump.

The court’s liberal justices, who voted against overturning Roe—Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan—wrote a joint dissent, described by CNBC reporters as “scathing.”

“The majority would allow States to ban abortion from conception onward because it does not think forced childbirth at all implicates a woman’s rights to equality and freedom,” they stated.

“A State can force her to bring a pregnancy to term, even at the steepest personal and familial costs,” they added.

In addition to Roe v Wade, the majority also voted to toss out the 1992 court decision made in Planned Parenthood v Casey, which upheld abortion rights and reaffirmed Roe.  The controversial ruling, passed on Friday, June 24, came as part of a case titled Dobbs v. Jackson and grants individual states autonomy over their own abortion laws. It is likely to result in abortion being banned or severely restricted in the majority of America’s Southern states, and millions of persons seeking abortions will now have to cross state lines to do so—a reality that experts say will most severely impact women of colour.

“Women of color, poor women, Black women are often the canary in the coal mine on these issues,” said Melissa Murray in the Washington Times. Murray is a law professor at the New York University and the author of the book Cases on Reproductive Rights and Justice. “Their experience really telegraphs where we are going with this,” she added.

Since its passing, numerous lawmakers, women’s rights organizations, and abortion rights activists have condemned the decision—as has US president Joe Biden. In a statement given shortly after the ruling was made, President Biden stated that the nation is being pointed down “an extreme and dangerous path.” The US president also referred to the decision as “a realisation of an extreme ideology and a tragic error by the Supreme Court”.

While polls have shown that the majority of Americans did not want Roe v Wade to be overturned (one poll by Monmouth University found that 64% believe abortion should be legal or legal with limitations), those opposed to abortion have been celebrating the decision. Conservative justice Clarence Thomas wrote a concurring opinion with the majority vote in which he stated that cases that established rights regarding the use of contraceptives and sam-sex marriages should also be reconsidered.

Protests for and against abortion rights rage on

The decision made on Friday came just one day after the Supreme Court passed down another controversial ruling—one that struck down the New York law which requires persons to have a license for carrying guns outside their homes.

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