US states start banning abortion following historic Supreme Court ruling
Clinics have begun closing in some US states after a Supreme Court ruling last Friday that removed American women’s constitutional right to abortion.
About half of states are expected to introduce new restrictions or bans after the court reversed its 50-year-old Roe v Wade decision.
And 13 states have so-called trigger laws in place that will see abortion banned within 30 days.
The 5-4 ruling allows individual states to ban abortion. There are nine states with a population of 40 million which have triggered legislation that banned abortions as soon as the judgment was handed down, and 16 more could follow suit.
The court’s 213-page ruling in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organisation was not totally unexpected due to the leak of an opinion draft a month earlier. The ruling emphasises that there is no constitutional right to abortion in the United States.
The Dobbs case focused on Jackson Women’s Health Organisation, an abortion clinic in Mississippi that challenged the state’s law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
The court’s reversal of its long-standing abortion ruling brings abortion policy decisions to the state level. At least half of states plan to ban or restrict abortions with this decision in place, and 13 states have trigger laws put in place set to ban abortions right away upon Roe’s reversal.
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the court’s majority opinion. Casey v. Planned Parenthood is the 1992 decision that affirmed Roe.
Alito was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.
The vote to uphold Mississippi’s abortion restriction was 6-3, with Chief Justice John Roberts voting with the majority. In a separate opinion, he said he would not have overturned the court’s Roe decision.
Alito, writing for the majority, said: “The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely — the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment.”
U.S. Catholic bishops who have supported a reversal of Roe immediately reacted positively to the court’s decision that comes at the end of this year’s term.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called the decision a “historic day in the life of our country, one that stirs our thoughts, emotions and prayers.”
“We pray that our elected officials will now enact laws and policies that promote and protect the most vulnerable among us,” a statement by Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez, USCCB president, and Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said.
“We give thanks to God for today’s decision … This just decision will save countless innocent children simply waiting to be born,” said the New York Catholic bishops in a statement shortly after the court’s opinion was released.