In a 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority on Friday wiped out the constitutional right to an abortion and a half century of precedent. More than half of states are prepared to ban the procedure.
Although the High Court’s ruling in Dobbs. v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization doesn’t make abortion illegal, states can now move to outlaw the procedure. And more than two dozen states with Republican-led legislatures have indicated they will ban the right to terminate a pregnancy. Thirteen states have trigger laws to immediately ban abortions if the landmark case was reversed.
The decision was expected as an early draft of the opinion was leaked by Politico in May. The case stemmed from dispute over a 2018 Mississippi law to ban abortions after 15 weeks except for medical emergencies but not for rape or incest. Lower courts had determined the law violated abortion protections under Roe v. Wade.
“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,” wrote Justice Samuel Alito in the majority opinion.
Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan dissented. “With sorrow—for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection—we dissent,” they wrote.
Reaction: Ruling poses a 'health care crisis'
President Joe Biden said he was stunned by the decision, noting "the health and life of women in this nation are now at risk." He has directed the Department of Health and Human Services to take steps to ensure that critical medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration are available and that politicians cannot interfere in the decisions that should be made between a woman and her doctor.
Vice President Kamala Harris called the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade a "health care crisis."
"Millions of women in America will go to bed tonight without access to the health care and reproductive care that they had this morning; without access to the same health care or reproductive healthcare that their mothers and grandmothers had for 50 years."
She said it was the first time in U.S. history that a constitutional right has been taken from Americans. That right, she said, is the right to privacy, including the decisions about the right to start a family, including contraception and whether to have a child.
Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid, vowed that CMS will continue to work to maintain and expand access to the full range of reproductive health care services, including IUDs, emergency contraception, oral contraception, other forms of contraception, and abortion care within our legal authority.
"A woman’s right to make decisions about her health is essential," she said. "I will do everything in my authority to ensure that people have the choice of when and how to start a family."