By MARK SHERMAN
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court on Friday withdrew women’s constitutional protections for abortion, a fundamental and deeply personal change for the lives of Americans after nearly half a century under Roe v. Wade. The historic court’s annulment of the court ruling is likely to lead to abortion bans in about half of the states.
The ruling, unthinkable just a few years ago, was the culmination of decades of efforts by opponents of abortion, made possible by a emboldened right-wing side of the court strengthened by three President Donald Trump appointees.
Both sides predicted that the fight for abortion would continue, in state capitals, in Washington and at the polls. Judge Clarence Thomas, who is part of the majority on Friday, urged his colleagues to overturn other higher court rulings protecting same-sex marriage, homosexual sex and contraceptive use.
Pregnant women considering abortion had already been dealing with an almost total ban in Oklahoma and a ban after about six weeks in Texas. Clinics in at least eight states (Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, South Dakota, Wisconsin and West Virginia) have stopped performing abortions following Friday’s decision.
In Ohio, a ban on most abortions in the first detectable fetal heartbeat became law when a federal judge dissolved an order that had kept the measure on hold for nearly three years. And Utah law was triggered by the ruling, coming into force with limited exceptions.
Enemies of abortion applauded the decision, but supporters of abortion rights, including President Joe Biden, expressed their dismay and pledged to fight to restore rights.
Protests erupted into the night in several cities, including thousands of protests against the decision in front of the Supreme Court barricade. Thousands more chanted “We’ll get up!” in Washington Square in New York City.
At the White House, Biden said, “It’s a sad day for the court and for the country.” He urged voters to make it a decisive issue in the November elections, declaring, “This decision should not be the last word.”
Outside the White House, Ansley Cole, an Atlanta college student, said she was “scared because after they’re going to come?… The next election cycle is going to be brutal, like scary. And if they’re going to do this, again, what’s next?” “
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of SBA Pro-Life America, agreed on the political bets.
“We are ready to attack for life in each of these legislatures, in every state and in the White House,” Dannenfelser said in a statement.
Trump praised the ruling and told Fox News it “will work for everyone.”
The decision is expected to disproportionately affect minority women who already have limited access to health care, according to statistics analyzed by The Associated Press.
It also puts the court at odds with the majority of Americans who favored Roe’s preservation, according to opinion polls.
Surveys conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and others have shown a majority in favor of abortion being legal in all or most circumstances. But many also admit restrictions, especially later in pregnancy. Surveys consistently show that about 1 in 10 Americans want abortion to be illegal in all cases.
The sentence came more than a month after the startling leak of a draft ruling by Judge Samuel Alito indicating that the court was ready to take this momentous step.
Alito, in the final opinion issued Friday, wrote that Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 decision reaffirming the right to abortion, had to be overturned.
“Therefore, we believe that the Constitution does not confer the right to abortion. Roe and Casey should be annulled, and the authority to regulate abortion should be returned to the people and their elected representatives,” Alito wrote, in an opinion very similar to the leaked draft .
They were joined by Alito Thomas and Judges Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. The last three judges are appointed by Trump. Thomas first voted to annul Roe 30 years ago.
Four judges would leave Roe and Casey in their place.
The vote was 6-3 to defend Mississippi law, but President John Roberts did not join his Conservative colleagues in overthrowing Roe. He wrote that there was no need to override the broad precedents for governing in favor of Mississippi.
Judges Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan – the diminished to the liberal of the court – were in dissent.
“Sadly – for this Court, but more so, for the many millions of American women who today have lost fundamental constitutional protection – we disagree,” they wrote, warning that opponents of abortion could now apply a nationwide ban “from the time of conception and without exception for rape or incest.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement that the Justice Department will protect providers and those seeking abortions in states where it is legal and “will work with other branches of the federal government seeking to use their legal authorities to protect and preserve access to care.” reproductive “. ”.
In particular, Garland said the Federal Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of Mifepristone for drug abortions.
More than 90% of abortions take place in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy, and more than half are now performed with pills, not surgery, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports the right to abortion.
Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, which was at the center of Friday’s case, continued to receive patients on Friday. Outside, men used a megaphone to tell people inside that they would burn in hell. Clinic escorts wearing colored vests used large speakers to launch Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” against protesters.
Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky and Missouri are among the 13 states, mostly in the south and midwest, that already have books on laws to ban abortion in case Roe was overturned. Another half a dozen states have bans or near-total bans after 6 weeks of pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant.
In about half a dozen states, including West Virginia and Wisconsin, the fight will be for inactive abortion bans that were enacted before Roe was decided in 1973 or for new proposals to drastically limit when abortions can be performed, according to Guttmacher.
Outside the entrenched Supreme Court, a crowd of mostly young women grew to hundreds within hours of the decision. Some shouted, “The Supreme Court is illegitimate,” while waves of others, dressed in red shirts with “The Vows of the Pro-Life Generation,” celebrated, danced, and threw their arms in the air.
The Biden administration and other advocates for the right to abortion have warned that a decision overturning Roe would also threaten other higher court decisions in favor of gay and even potentially contraceptive rights.
Liberal judges made the same point in their joint dissent: The majority “eliminates a 50-year constitutional right that safeguards women’s freedom and equal position. It violates a fundamental principle of the rule of law, designed to promote the constancy of the law. By doing all this, it jeopardizes other rights, from contraception to same-sex intimacy and marriage. And, finally, it undermines the legitimacy of the Court.
And Thomas, the member of the court most willing to dismiss previous decisions, wrote a separate opinion in which he specifically asked his colleagues to put on the table the cases of same-sex marriage, same-sex marriage and Supreme Court contraception.
But Alito argued that his analysis addresses only abortion. “Nothing in this opinion should be understood to call into question the precedents that do not relate to abortion,” he wrote.
Whatever the intentions of the person who leaked Alito’s draft opinion, the Conservatives have stood firm in overthrowing Roe and Casey.
In her view, Alito rejected arguments in favor of upholding the two decisions, including that several generations of American women relied in part on the right to abortion to gain economic and political power.
Changing the composition of the court was crucial to the strategy of the anti-abortion side, as dissidents pointed out. “The Court is reversing the course today for one reason and only one: because the composition of this Court has changed,” the Liberal judges wrote.
Mississippi and its allies presented increasingly aggressive arguments as the case unfolded, and two high-profile abortion rights advocates retired or died. The state initially argued that its law could be upheld without overturning the court’s abortion precedents.
Judge Anthony Kennedy retired shortly after the Mississippi law went into effect in 2018 and Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away in September 2020. Both had been members of a five-judge majority that primarily protected abortion rights.
In their Senate hearings, Trump’s three high court elections carefully eluded questions about how they would vote in any case, even on abortion.
Associated Press writers Jessica Gresko, Fatima Hussein, photographer Jacquelyn Martin and video journalist Nathan Ellgren in Washington, Alanna Durkin Richer in Boston, Emily Wagster Pettus in Jackson, Mississippi, Scott Bauer in Madison, Wisconsin, Leah Willingham in Charleston, West Virginia, Michael Hill in New York, and Kantele Franko in Columbus, Ohio, contributed to this report.
For full AP coverage of the Supreme Court ruling on abortion, go to https://apnews.com/hub/abortion
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