In a historic and far-reaching decision, the U.S. Supreme Court officially reversed Roe v. Wade on Friday, declaring that the constitutional right to abortion, upheld for nearly a half century, no longer exists.
The draft opinion is a full-throated, unflinching repudiation of the 1973 decision which guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights and a subsequent 1992 decision â€” Planned Parenthood v. Casey â€” that largely maintained the right. â€œRoe was egregiously wrong from the start,â€ Alito writes.
The Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that established the constitutional right to abortion.
Almost half the states are expected to outlaw or severely restrict abortion as a result of the Supreme Courtâ€™s decision on a Mississippi case known as Dobbs v. Jackson Womenâ€™s Health Organization.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion, joined by four other conservatives. The three liberal justices opposed the decision. Chief Justice John Roberts voted with the majority to uphold the Mississippi abortion restrictions but did not approve of tossing out Roe altogether.
Held: 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.
In recent years, a significant number of States have enacted abortion restrictions that directly conflict with Roe. Those laws cannot be dismissed as political stunts or as outlier laws. Those numerous state laws collectively represent the sincere and deeply held views of tens of millions of Americans who continue to fervently believe that allowing abortions up to 24 weeks is far too radical and far too extreme, and does not sufficiently account for what Roe itself recognized as the State’s “important and legitimate interest” in protecting fetal life.
After today’s decision, the nine Members of this Court will no longer decide the basic legality of pre-viability abortion for all 330 million Americans. That issue will be resolved by the people and their representatives in the democratic process in the States or Congress.
The Roe Court took sides on a consequential moral and policy issue that this Court had no constitutional authority to decide. By taking sides, the Roe Court distorted the Nation’s understanding of this Court’s proper role in the American constitutional system and thereby damaged the Court as an institution.
To be sure, many Americans will disagree with the Court’s decision today. That would be true no matter how the Court decided this case. Both sides on the abortion issue believe sincerely and passionately in the rightness of their cause. Especially in those difficult and fraught circumstances, the Court must scrupulously adhere to the Constitution’s neutral position on the issue of abortion.
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. The Court today properly heeds the constitutional principle of judicial neutrality and returns the issue of abortion to the people and their elected representatives in the democratic process.