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Pro-choice protestors outside the Supreme Court as the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was released. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images.
Pro-choice protestors outside the Supreme Court as the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was released. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images.

The Supreme Court officially overturns Roe v. Wade, jeopardizing abortion nationwide

The decision was known via a majority opinion draft leaked in May by POLITICO, and it was just a matter of when an announcement would be made.

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On Friday, June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court officially released its decision in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, and it overruled the almost 50-year precedent of the right to an abortion established with Roe v. Wade.

The decision was one looming the largest over this session of the Supreme Court, as a month ago, POLITICO leaked a draft of the majority decision for Dobbs, written by Justice Samuel Alito. The eventual justice split for the case was 5-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the liberal minority in dissent. Conservative Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito were the majority.

Dobbs was a case coming from Mississippi challenging whether or not the state could enforce a ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. It gained in notoriety around the time Texas was trying to implement its own 'heartbeat' bill that would ban abortion at six weeks.

With the decision, 22 states in the U.S. will now virtually ban abortion via laws that were already on the books prior to the 1973 Roe decision, trigger laws set to take effect the moment Roe v. Wade was overturned, or ones that severely limit access.

In his majority opinion, Alito wrote that “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start.”

"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," he wrote also mentioning the landmark abortion case Planned Parenthood v. Casey. It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives." 

In the end, the majority ruled in favor of allowing the state's to determine the access of abortion in favor of a federal ruling or law, with concurring justices citing the Constitution's neutrality as support.

"In my judgment, on the issue of abortion, the Constitution is neither pro-life nor pro-choice. The Constitution is neutral, and this Court likewise must be scrupulously neutral," wrote Kavanaugh in his concurring opinion.

In dissent, Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan appealed to the past rulings of Roe and Casey that set the boundaries for which a state could intervene in the decision-making process of a woman during pregnancy. To them, "the Court struck a balance," between the morality issue surrounding abortion, and the autonomy of women over their bodies.

"Today, the Court discards that balance. It says that from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of. A State can force her to bring a pregnancy to term, even at the steepest personal and familial costs," they wrote. 

Outside the Supreme Court chambers, a showdown was also taking place between pro-choice and pro-life protestors as the decision was handed down. One side rejoiced, as the other decried the result and promised to make lawmakers pay for the decision at the polls in November.

Speaking of the 2022 midterms, with Roe gone, voters are now choosing between whether or not the practice remains available in their states.

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