The US Supreme Court officially reversed Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022, declaring that women’s constitutional right to abortion, which was upheld for almost half a century, no longer exists.
Justice Samuel Alito, when writing for the court majority, said that the 1973 Roe ruling and subsequent high court decisions that reaffirmed Roe “must be overruled” since they were “egregiously wrong” and the arguments made were “exceptionally weak” and so “damaging.”
Vote for overturning Roe was 6 to 3
The decision does not come as a surprise since Alito’s draft opinion was leaked in early May. However, the US Supreme Court officially reversing the landmark ruling means nearly half of the states will immediately roll back abortion rights – more restrictions are expected to follow soon as well. This indicates that abortion will not be available to people in large parts of the country.
This decision may also mean that the question of abortion will become a focal point during the upcoming fall elections. Joining Justice Alito’s opinion were Justice Clarence Thomas and the three Trump appointees – Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, and Amy Coney Barett. Chief Justice Roberts also concurred in the judgment.
Dissenting Alito’s opinion were Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor. They wrote, “With sorrow—for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection—we dissent.”
Going forward, abortion rights will essentially be determined by individual states unless Congress acts. Several states, including Mississippi, Wisconsin, and North Carolina, have the decades-old abortion ban still on their books. Now, with Roe overturned, these states can revert quickly to a pre-Roe environment. Officials in these states can ask the courts to reinstate old laws.
Similar to the leaked draft
Justice Alito’s final opinion on Roe v. Wade was strikingly similar to the leaked draft he wrote earlier this year. His current opinion repeats the scornful language he used in the draft.
In his opinion, Alito wrote, “What sharply distinguishes the abortion right from the rights recognized in the cases on which Roe and Casey rely is something that both those decisions acknowledged: Abortion destroys what those decisions call ‘potential life’ and what the law at issue, in this case, regards as the life of an ‘unborn human being.’ This line was also present in his draft.
A broad majority of Americans, however, did not want to see the landmark ruling overturned. In a May poll conducted by CNN, Americans stated 66% to 34% that they did not want the United States Supreme Court to overturn the decision.