The day we feared most has finally arrived. The U.S. Supreme Court officially overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday, declaring that the constitutional right to abortion no longer exists and putting millions of lives at risk.
This transforms the United States into the only “developed” country to criminalize abortion.
In his majority argument, Justice Samuel Alito said that the 1973 Roe ruling and repeated subsequent high court decisions reaffirming Roe “must be overruled” because they were “egregiously wrong,” the arguments “exceptionally weak” and so “damaging” that they amounted to “an abuse of judicial authority.”
“This court has sentenced every pregnant woman to servitude on the altar of a historically false insistence that abortion was rare in the early Republic, which in fact is the imposition of a religious doctrine on the rest of us,” says Dr. Ann Olivarius, Chair and Senior Partner of feminist law firm McAllister Olivarius.
The court’s decision breaks a precedent set nearly 50 years ago, fueled by the resurgence of the radical conservative right, and against popular opinion. In the United States, six in ten people say abortion should be legal in all or almost all cases. Yet a right-wing, white, male-majority court has decided to strip women and birthing people of the right to decide about their own bodies.
“Now, once again, women will be expected to bear the burden of any act of intercourse, voluntary or resisted, seduced, coerced or simply mistaken. Our sons and daughters, our grandchildren, will pay the price,” added Dr. Ann Olivarius.
The forces fighting equality are angrier, more affluent, better organized, and more cynical than they were 40 years ago, but the fight is the same.”
The court’s ruling came in the pivotal case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, in which Mississippi’s last abortion clinic opposed the state’s efforts to ban abortion after 15 weeks and overturn Roe in the process.
Chief Justice John Roberts said he would have upheld Mississippi’s law, but would not have overturned Roe entirely.
As The Guardian explained, 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 conservative 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 ruling will again allow individual U.S. states to ban abortion. At least 26 states are expected to do so immediately or as soon as possible.