Roe v Wade: US Supreme Court Overturns Right To Abortion

Abortion-rights protesters rally outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC following the top court's decision to overturn Roe v Wade [Gemunu Amarasinghe/AP Photo]

US Supreme Court overturns landmark Roe v Wade decision, upending nearly five decades of abortion access in the country.

In a 6-3 vote, conservative-dominated top court rules the US Constitution “does not confer a right to abortion”.

The full Supreme Court decision
The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe has come in the context of a legal challenge to a Mississippi state law banning abortion at 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the only abortion clinic remaining in Mississippi, challenged the 2018 law and had the support of the Biden administration. The legislation allows abortions when there is a “medical emergency” or a “severe fetal abnormality” but does not have an exception for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.

A federal judge in 2018 struck the law down, citing the Roe precedent, and the New Orleans-based 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals in 2019 reached the same conclusion.

But the Supreme Court has now upheld the Mississippi law.

WHO reaffirms ‘safe abortion care is essential’

Without naming the US specifically, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said “safe abortion care is essential to protect the health of women & girls everywhere”.

“Removing access to #abortion care will put more women & girls at risk of illegal abortions and the consequent safety issues that would bring,” the group tweeted.

WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus last month warned that restricting access to abortions “drives women and girls towards unsafe ones”.

European leaders react to news of Roe reversal
Leaders from around the world have shared their thoughts on the US Supreme Court’s abortion decision, with French President Emmanuel Macron expressing “solidarity with the women whose liberties are being undermined” by the top court.

Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon said the ruling ushers in “one of the darkest days for women’s rights” in her lifetime, adding that “the immediate consequences will be suffered by women in the US – but this will embolden anti-abortion & anti-women forces in other countries too”.

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, said that his city “stands with the women of America, whose most basic rights and freedoms are threatened by this ruling”.

Abortion is a fundamental right for all women. It must be protected. I wish to express my solidarity with the women whose liberties are being undermined by the Supreme Court of the United States.

— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) June 24, 2022

Decision may be ‘political gift’ for Biden administration: AJ
Al Jazeera’s Kimberley Halkett, reporting from Washington, has said the striking down of Roe could prove to be a “political gift” for the Biden administration amid low approval ratings.

“He’s got low marks because of the economy. Americans are angry for record high inflation. In a way this is a bit of a political gift,” Halkett said.

“In order to preserve these reproductive rights, [US voters] may in fact vote for [Biden’s Democratic Party] and this could be a political win. That may be another reason that Joe Biden has decided not to take executive action and hand this to the legislators and the people in November.”

Vatican praises US Supreme Court ruling
The Vatican’s Academy for Life has praised the US Supreme Court’s decision on abortion, saying it challenged the whole world to reflect on life issues.

The Vatican department also said in a statement that the defence of human life could not be confined to individual rights because life is a matter of “broad social significance”.

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“The fact that a large country with a long democratic tradition has changed its position on this issue also challenges the whole world,” the academy said.

Top Republican welcomes decision as ‘courageous and correct’
US Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has welcomed the ruling as “courageous and correct” and “an historic victory for the Constitution and for the most vulnerable in our society”.

“For 50 years, states have been unable to enact even modest protections for unborn children,” McConnell said in a statement.

“Not anymore. Now the American people get their voice back.”

Biden says ‘Roe on the ballot’ in November midterms
Biden has promised to go on fighting for reproductive rights but said no executive order can guarantee a woman’s right to choose.

He urged voters to send lawmakers to Congress who will work to codify abortion rights as the law of the land.

“This fall, Roe is on the ballot. Personal freedoms are on the ballot,” Biden said, referring to the upcoming midterm elections.

‘Relief, excitement’ for anti-abortion activist
Brooke Paz, 26, has said she felt a “mix of relief and excitement” when the top US court’s ruling was announced.

“It’s really hard to describe, but a bunch of us started bursting into tears and hearing those words become a reality … is an incredible moment,” Paz, who is a member of the Students for Life group, told Al Jazeera in Washington.

On the question of more people resorting to unsafe abortion practices after the ruling, Paz said: “Abortion is never safe. It’s never safe for the child, and it’s never safe for the woman regardless of whether they’re trying to perform it themselves, or with a doctor.”

Canada’s PM Trudeau criticises ruling
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the US Supreme Court’s decision is “horrific” news for women and that no “government, politician, or man should tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her body”.

“I want women in Canada to know that we will always stand up for your right to choose,” he tweeted.

No government, politician, or man should tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her body. I want women in Canada to know that we will always stand up for your right to choose.

— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) June 24, 2022

‘Something that will work out for everybody,’ says Trump
Former US President Donald Trump has welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision.

“This is following the Constitution, and giving rights back when they should have been given long ago,” he said in an interview with Fox News Friday. “I think, in the end, this is something that will work out for everybody.”

Three of the six Supreme Court justices who voted to overturn Roe were appointed by Trump.

Former VP Pence calls for abortion bans across US
Former US Vice President and potential Republican 2024 presidential contender Mike Pence has heralded the Supreme Court’s decision, saying the US anti-abortion movement is now entering “a new arena in the cause of life”.

In an interview with right-wing news outlet Breitbart, Pence, a fierce and longtime opponent of abortion rights, called on conservatives to push forward.

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“We must not rest and must not relent until the sanctity of life is restored to the center of American law in every state in the land,” he said.

‘It makes me feel angry’: Protesters rally outside court for abortion rights
Caroline Burney, a 22-year-old who studies in Louisiana, told Al Jazeera outside the Supreme Court that the prospect of going back to the southern US state after the overturning of Roe “is really scary”.

“All my friends and I, none of us can have access to [abortion] unless we go to another state,” she said.

“It makes me feel angry that a bunch of people get to decide what I do with my life and my body,” Burney added.

Biden says his administration will defend right to travel to get abortion
Biden has pledged to defend American women’s right to travel to US states to access abortion services.

“If any state or local official tries to interfere … I will do everything in my power to fight that deeply un-American attack,” Biden said.

US President Joe Biden condemned the Supreme Court’s abortion decision 

‘Sad day’ for the United States, President Joe Biden says
US President Joe Biden has said the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade marks “a sad day for the court and for the country”.

“The health and life of women in this nation is now at risk,” Biden said.

“State laws banning abortion are automatically taking effect today, jeopardising the health of millions of women.”

Decision ‘especially dangerous’ for religious minorities: Muslim Advocates
Muslim Advocates, a civil rights organisation in the US, has raised alarm about the Supreme Court’s decision, saying it “is especially dangerous to those belonging to minority religions like Islam”.

“How far down this path the court will go is not certain, but the rise of anti-Muslim government acts like the Muslim Ban and state adoption of anti-sharia legislation has shown that Muslims are especially targeted by those moved by paranoia and misrepresentation,” the group said.

“When that paranoia is combined with state power, the results can be devastating to the civil and human rights of all Muslims in this country.”

In their words: US Supreme Court justices’ records on abortion
Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and John Roberts, the court’s chief justice, voted in favour of Friday’s decision.

The justices have had a lot to say about abortion over the years.

US attorney general says Justice Department disagrees with decision
US Attorney General Merrick Garland has said the Department of Justice “strongly disagrees” with the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“This decision deals a devastating blow to reproductive freedom in the United States,” Garland said in a statement, stressing however that the decision “does not eliminate the ability of states to keep abortion legal within their borders”.

“We recognize that traveling to obtain reproductive care may not be feasible in many circumstances. But under bedrock constitutional principles, women who reside in states that have banned access to comprehensive reproductive care must remain free to seek that care in states where it is legal. Moreover, under fundamental First Amendment principles, individuals must remain free to inform and counsel each other about the reproductive care that is available in other states,” he said.

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Twenty-six US states ‘certain or likely’ to ban abortion: Guttmacher
Twenty-six US states are “certain or likely” to ban abortion now that Roe has been overturned, the Guttmacher Institute reproductive rights group has said.

“Without Roe, 26 states are certain or likely to ban abortion to the fullest extent possible, including 13 states that have ‘trigger’ laws in place that will automatically enact bans—some within days or even hours of today’s decision,” Herminia Palacio, the group’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

“Decades of research consistently show that abortion bans and restrictions don’t reduce unintended pregnancy or demand for abortion, and they certainly do not help people improve their health.”

For years, we’ve known that overturning #RoeVWade would be devastating. Now more than ever, we must fight for the dignity and autonomy of all people. Statement by our President and CEO @HerminiaPalacio: #AbortionIsEssential #BansOffOurBodies

— Guttmacher Institute (@Guttmacher) June 24, 2022

‘Catastrophe’: Rights groups slam top court decision
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other rights groups have slammed the decision, saying millions of people will no longer have access to abortion in the US.

“Today’s decision is a gender, racial and economic justice catastrophe with deadly consequences. Women and people who can become pregnant have been forced into a second-class status,” the ACLU said on Twitter.

“Today marks a grim milestone in the history of the United States,” Tarah Demant at Amnesty International USA also said in a statement. “Millions of people who can become pregnant in the United States now face a future where they will not be able to make deeply personal choices that affect their bodies, their future, and the well-being of their families.”

‘Radical Supreme Court’ endangering Americans’ rights: Pelosi
US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has condemned the decision by the Supreme Court, saying the health and safety of people in the US were at risk.

“This morning, the radical Supreme Court is eviscerating Americans’ rights and endangering their health and safety. But Congress will continue to act to overcome this extremism and protect the American people,” Pelosi told reporters.

“Today the Republican-controlled Supreme Court has achieved their dark, extreme goal of ripping away women’s right to make their own reproductive health decisions.”

Anti-abortion activists celebrate outside top court in Washington, DC
Anti-abortion activists have gathered to celebrate the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade. The crowds erupted in cheers as news of the ruling spread.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Emma Craig, 36, of Pro Life San Francisco.

“Abortion is the biggest tragedy of our generation and in 50 years, we’ll look back at the 50 years we’ve been under Roe v Wade with shame.”

Roe v Wade: US Supreme Court Overturns Right To Abortion - Vantage News Nigeria
A celebration outside the Supreme Court, June 24, 2022 [Steve Helber/AP Photo]


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