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Supreme Court decision ends recognition of a constitutional right to abortion

In a historic decision today, the Supreme Court rules abortion is no longer recognized as a constitutional right and states now have the power to limit, ban, or allow the practice in their state. 

The Supreme Court ruling came through the court’s decision in a case titled, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The case looked at a Mississippi law that banned abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The state of Mississippi petitioned the Court to overrule a lower court ruling that stopped the 15-week abortion ban. 

This decision became public earlier this year after a leak of court papers and since the leak churches and pregnancy centers have been vandalized across the country. 

Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the Court’s decision, “We end this opinion where we began. Abortion presents a profound moral question. The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives.”

“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, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely—the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment. That provision has been held to guarantee some rights that are not mentioned in the Constitution, but any such right must be “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition” and “implicit in the concept of ordered liberty.”

The opinion continued, “The right to abortion does not fall within this category. Until the latter part of the 20th century, such a right was entirely unknown in American law. Indeed, when the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted, three-quarters of the States made abortion a crime at all stages of pregnancy. The abortion right is also critically different from any other right that this Court has held to fall within the Fourteenth Amendment’s protection of “liberty.” Roe’s defenders characterize the abortion right as similar to the rights recognized in past decisions involving matters such as intimate sexual relations, contraception, and marriage, but abortion is fundamentally different, as both Roe and Casey acknowledged, because it destroys what those decisions called “fetal life” and what the law now before us describes as an “unborn human being.”

“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. It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives. “The permissibility of abortion, and the limitations, upon it, are to be resolved like most important questions in our democracy: by citizens trying to persuade one another and then voting… That is what the Constitution and the rule of law demand.”

 

 


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