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Right To Abortion Overturned After Nearly 50 Years

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Right To Abortion Overturned After Nearly 50 Years

The power to decide on abortion rights for tens of millions of women will now be handed to the 50 states to determine individually.

The US Supreme Court has voted to overturn the constitutional right to choose abortion which has existed for almost 50 years, paving the way for half the country to severely restrict or completely ban the practice.

The power to decide on abortion rights for tens of millions of women will now be handed to the 50 states to determine individually.

It is one of the most consequential rulings by the Supreme Court, the highest court in America, in recent history.

Crowds gathered outside the court in Washington DC when the ruling emerged, with some there to celebrate while others rallied against what they see as an attack on women’s freedoms.

The majority of the nine-member panel voted to overturn the court’s landmark 1973 ruling known as “Roe versus Wade” which legalised abortion nationwide up to the point of foetal viability, generally accepted to be around 24 weeks into pregnancy.

At least 25 states are poised to introduce new laws, or reactivate dormant law, which will make it illegal to access abortion in many cases, including, in some instances, where conception has resulted from rape or incest.

Many of those states are in the south of the country. Thirteen states have so-called “trigger” laws to ban abortion if Roe was to be overturned.

• Kentucky, Louisiana and South Dakota have immediately banned the practice
• Another 10 are set to follow in the coming days and weeks. They are Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Idaho, Tennessee, Texas, Mississippi, North Dakota, Utah and Wyoming

“No one should be able to choose to end the life of an innocent baby in the womb,” one woman said outside court.

“So I am here to stand up for both the babies and women who have been hurt and killed by abortion.”

But another said: “Women deserve protection – this does not mean abortions are going to stop. I’ve had an abortion, I was 19 years old, I still stay with the grief of that, the shame of that. It’s very nuanced. If we make that choice, it doesn’t mean we’re happy about it. I didn’t have the funding to take care of a child the way I wanted to.”

The final opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito and issued on Friday, also overturns a 1992 decision – known as “Planned Parenthood versus Casey” – which had reaffirmed abortion rights.

The new ruling handed a momentous victory to Republicans and Christian conservatives who want to limit or ban the procedure but also put the court at odds with a majority of Americans who backed preserving Roe, according to opinion polls.

Both pro-life and pro-choice campaigners had gathered in the capital ahead of the announcement, some jubilant and some furious when it was revealed.

Justice Alito wrote that Roe v Wade and Planned Parenthood v Casey were wrong the day they were decided and must be overturned.

Authority to regulate abortion rests with the political branches, not the courts, Justice Alito wrote.

‘Roe was egregiously wrong from the start’

“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision,” the justice wrote.

“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.”

The new opinion originates from the state of Mississippi which was arguing to establish a law which would ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, significantly earlier than the point of foetal viability.

The nine-member Supreme Court, in a 6-3 ruling strengthened by its conservative majority, upheld the Republican-backed Mississippi law.

The vote was 5-4 to overturn Roe v Wade. Joining Justice Alito were Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. The latter three justices are appointees of former president Donald Trump. Justice Thomas first voted to overrule Roe 30 years ago.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing separately, said he would have upheld the Mississippi law but not taken the additional step of erasing the precedent altogether.

Women’s rights curtailed, say liberal justices

Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan – the liberal wing of the court – were in dissent.

They wrote: “Whatever the exact scope of the coming laws, one result of today’s decision is certain: the curtailment of women’s rights, and of their status as free and equal citizens.

“With sorrow – for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection – we dissent.”

Pro-choice groups, who believe abortion should be viewed as standard healthcare and a human right, say the removal of the constitutional right to abortion will create so called “abortion deserts” forcing women to travel hundreds or thousands of miles to terminate unwanted pregnancies.

In what was a stunning and unprecedented leak, a draft opinion was published on the US political website Politico in May, indicating that the court was poised to overturn Roe versus Wade.

It prompted widespread protest across the United States and reignited debate between pro-life and pro-choice groups.

Now that ruling has been confirmed it is likely to inflame political tensions once more.

Many court watchers believe the decision has occurred because the Supreme Court is newly right-leaning with six conservative judges, including three justices appointed by former president Donald Trump, outnumbering their three more liberal colleagues.

While abortion is one of the most divisive issues in America, polling has shown that the majority of Americans opposed Roe being overturned.

Earlier this month, a poll by the analytics company Gallup found that 55% of Americans identify as “pro-choice.” Sky News availed to Charity Reporters.

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