On Friday (June 24), the United States Supreme Court ruled to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, thereby revoking abortion as a constitutionally protected right and sending the decision on abortion legislation back to the individual states.
The 6-3 decision came as a break from nearly 50 years of legal determinations by SCOTUS, who had previously reaffirmed the Roe decision in the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision.
A great deal of anticipation has surrounded the announcement of this ruling, which came in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization regarding a Mississippi law that bars most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, as a leaked draft of the opinion written by Associate Justice Samuel Alito in May indicated a possible victory for the pro-life movement.
Later that same month, Democratic senators presented a bill that would federally protect abortion rights, thereby codifying Roe, but it was ultimately struck down by a 49-51 vote.
Had it passed, the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) would have provided federal protections for abortion rights up to the point of birth, striking down regulatory laws surrounding abortion at the state level. Every Republican senator voted against it, and Democratic senator Joe Manchin crossed party lines to join them.
“The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives,” the SCOTUS opinion reads.
The opinion goes on to say that the “critical question is whether the Constitution, properly understood, confers a right to obtain an abortion,” arguing that the Casey decision “skipped over that question and reaffirmed Roe solely on the basis of stare decisis,” that is, the established legal precedent of Roe.
In response to the news, pro-life advocates took to social media to express gratitude and celebration.
“This is a great day for American justice. A grievous wrong has been corrected. This ruling was decades in the making, through long and patient legal, political, and cultural advocacy,” tweeted journalist and legal expert David French. “But this fight is not over. Far from it. The struggle to build a culture of life continues.”