Today, the US Supreme Court reversed long-settled law that will fracture the foundations of modern reproductive rights in America. According to The Guardian of London, it delivered a verdict that there is no constitutional right to abortion in the United States. With that, the court upended a precedent set nearly 50 years ago in the landmark Roe v Wade case.
The court’s ruling, according to the report, came in the pivotal case Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, in which the last abortion clinic in Mississippi opposed the state’s efforts to ban abortion after 15 weeks and overturn Roe in the process.
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” said the majority opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito and joined by four other conservative justices.
“The constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision,” it said.
Separately, Chief Justice John Roberts said he would have upheld Mississippi’s law, but not overruled Roe altogether.
The court’s three liberal justices dissented. The majority opinion “says that from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of”, and that conservatives justices well knew states across vast regions of the US would enact – and in many cases had already enacted – abortion restrictions that would go to the moment of conception.
Under state restrictions, “a woman will have to bear her rapist’s child or a young girl her father’s – no matter if doing so will destroy her life,” liberal justices wrote.
The reversal of the 1973 opinion will again allow individual US states to ban abortion. At least 26 states are expected to do so immediately or as soon as practicable.
The Guardian reports further: “The Dobbs decision is certain to be one of the most consequential in generations. It will have profound, immediate and enduring consequences for the lives of tens of millions of American women and other people who can become pregnant, and unpredictable ripple effects that could play out over decades.
“This is kind of unparalleled, and even if it’s not completely unprecedented it’s extremely rare,” said Mary Ziegler, a visiting professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School, professor at the University of California, Davis School of Law and a historian of abortion.
“It’s also extraordinary to do something like this so quickly, with no kind of advance notice,” said Ziegler.