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Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, leaves issue up to states

The Supreme Court has overturned its 49-year-old landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion throughout the US, upholding a Mississippi law banning the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy – and leaving the issue up to each of the 50 states.

The opinion by Justice Samuel Alito for a 6-3 court also overturned a 1992 case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in which the court found that state laws restricting abortion should not impose an “undue burden” on women seeking the procedure.

“Abortion presents a profound moral question,” Alito wrote. “The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives.”

The decision was handed down more than eight weeks after a draft version of Alito’s opinion was leaked to Politico – sparking outrage and protests across the country. 

“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Alito wrote in language held over from the leaked draft. “Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.”

The Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion throughout the US.
EPA/JIM LO SCALZO
Members of the Supreme Court pose for a group photo at the Supreme Court in Washington, April 23, 2021
A draft version of the opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito was leaked to Politico – sparking outrage and protests across the country. 
Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP, Pool

Alito was joined in his opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts as well as Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. Thomas, Kavanaugh, and Roberts filed separate opinions concurring in Alito’s judgement.

Democrat-appointed Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented.

Abortion rights protesters stage a die-in during a youth rally in Washington Square Park in anticipation of Supreme Court overturning the Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision in New York City, U.S., June 3, 2022
Abortion rights protesters stage a die-in during a youth rally in Washington Square Park in anticipation of Supreme Court overturning the Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision in New York City, June 3, 2022.
REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

While recent polling has found the majority of Americans wanted Roe v. Wade to be upheld, the decision will allow 22 states to implement total or near-total abortion restrictions

Those states include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Abortion rights protesters stage a die-in during a youth rally in Washington Square Park in anticipation of Supreme Court overturning the Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision in New York City, U.S., June 3, 2022.
Recent polling has found the majority of Americans wanted Roe v. Wade to be upheld.
REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

Ahead of the decision, Democrats in Congress attempted to codify Roe v. Wade into federal law, but the bill failed to clear a test vote in the evenly split Senate, only garnering 49 votes last month.

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