WASHINGTON, DC - OCT 3, 2016: Equal Justice Under Law engraving above entrance to US Supreme Court Building. Supreme Court faces the US Capitol Building.

Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade, Ending Federal Right to Abortion

The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday, ruling there is no longer a federal constitutional right or guarantee to an abortion. The court has transferred the jurisdiction of laws on abortion to each individual state. 

Roe v. Wade overturned by Supreme Court, ending federal abortion rights

A seismic shift regarding abortion rights in America, as the Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 decision known in Roe v. Wade that established federal rights to an abortion, which now revert back to individual states.

The court’s decision came from a case involving a Mississippi law that banned abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The court reversed a decision by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which had blocked the measure, CBS reported.

The court overturned the decision in a 6-3 vote that removes 50 years of precedent guaranteeing a constitutional right to an abortion, NBC reported.

The majority opinion for the court was delivered by Justice Samuel Alito, who was joined in the vote by Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. While Chief Justice John Roberts concurred with the opinion, he wrote that while he agrees that the viability line established under Roe should be discarded and Mississippi’s law upheld, he felt Roe and Casey should be left untouched.

The three liberal justices of the court dissented.

Majority opinion returns abortion rights to the states

“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,” Justice Alito wrote in his majority opinion. “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

Which states have trigger laws?

With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, it’s expected that the decision will fire off so-called “trigger laws” that already exist in several states, leading to a swift prohibition of abortion in most cases.

The nine states with trigger laws include Idaho, Utah, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Louisiana.

Four states have multiple laws banning abortion, including Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Mississippi.

Four states already have bans on abortions after six weeks: Iowa, Ohio, Georgia, and South Carolina.

Five states have an abortion been on the books predating 1973: Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, West Virginia, and Alabama.

In addition to trigger laws, an analysis found that 23 states have laws on the books that could be used to restrict abortion rights, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Which states have laws protecting abortion?

There are 15 states which have laws on the books to protect abortion rights: Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Illinois, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and California. The District of Columbia also currently upholds abortion rights.

Decision mirrors leaked draft

The ruling by the court appears to mirror the draft majority opinion that had leaked and was subsequently published in May, which suggested the Supreme Court had already decided to strike down Roe and Casey.

Unlike the rest of the institutions in Washington, the Supreme Court had previously been known as being virtually leak-proof. But in the wake of the leak, Chief Justice John Roberts ordered an investigation into the matter. However, the source of the leak remains unknown.