WASHINGTON, D.C. (KERO — On Friday the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that legalized abortion in a 5-4 decision. The court ruled 6-3 to uphold the Mississippi law at the heart of the case.
Nearly 50 years ago Supreme Court voted in favor of a ruling that allowed women the right to have a legal abortion. It's a law that 23ABC political analyst Ivy Cargile says gave a passage for women to live their lives the way they wanted to with or without a child.
“We do know that abortion access and reproductive rights access has definitely allowed women an opportunity to engage in activities that otherwise were reserved for just men.”
Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. The case came down to one central question: Does the Constitution recognize a pregnant person's right to have an abortion?
In 1969 Norma McCorvey, the Texas resident named "Jane Roe" in the case for privacy, was denied access to abortion because her pregnancy did not pose a medical risk to her life. During this time it was a crime in Texas and other states to have an abortion unless the patient would die without it.
Then a group of Texas lawmakers came together to overturn abortion bans and the case went to the supreme court and on January 22, 1973. "Roe" won. Seven of the nine justices agreed a clause in the 14th Amendment of the Constitution protects the rights on a person's choice to terminate their pregnancy. They used the three trimesters of pregnancy as a framework for the law.
In the first trimester governments could not prohibit a woman from choosing to have an abortion as long as a doctor conducted it. In the second trimester governments could enact medical regulations on abortions as long as they were in favor of protecting the mother’s health. And in the third trimester governments could legally prohibit all abortions unless the procedure was necessary to protect the mother’s life or health.
Cargile says the approval of the law has given women more opportunities.
“We know that economically it has given women the independence to make decisions for themselves and be able to take journeys that perhaps they would not have been able to take if they had a child or children.”
But states including Alabama, Arizona, Michigan, and Texas, among others have already had abortion restrictions in place prior to Roe v. Wade that were never removed. According the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that focuses on sexual and reproductive health in 2021 more states across the country enacted abortion restrictions than in any year since Roe v. Wade was passed in 1973.
Now with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, 26 states are likely to follow suit. Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennesse, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming have trigger laws in places that are designed to take effect automatically if Roe v. Wade no longer applies.
Cargile says she hopes these states are providing the support that is necessary when it comes to raising children.
“I do think that in these 26 states that are looking to restrict rights, I hope that the counter to these restrictions is more access and more resources towards accessible childcare, towards making sure that there are more educational avenues for young children, more access to T-K, more access to pre-K, and make it affordable. So if you are going to be making these people who identify as women, go through these unwanted pregnancies, that therefore, if the state is making this decision that the counter is that they are also providing the services that are going to be necessary for these children to then come out into the world.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, of Bakersfield; House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, of Louisiana; and House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, of New York, released a statement following the Supreme Court's decision:
“Every unborn child is precious, extraordinary, and worthy of protection. We applaud this historic ruling, which will save countless innocent lives.
“The Supreme Court is right to return the power to protect the unborn to the people’s elected representatives in Congress and the states. In the days and weeks following this decision, we must work to continue to reject extreme policies that seek to allow late-term abortions and taxpayer dollars to fund these elective procedures.
“The people’s representatives must defend the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for every American - born and unborn. As we celebrate today's decision, we recognize the decades of advocacy from the pro-life movement and we acknowledge much work remains to protect the most vulnerable among us."
The Associated Press reports:
The ruling came more than a month after the stunning leak of a draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito indicating the court was prepared to take this momentous step.
It puts the court at odds with a majority of Americans who favored preserving Roe, according to opinion polls.
Alito, in the final opinion issued Friday, wrote that Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 decision that reaffirmed the right to abortion, were wrong the day they were decided and must be overturned.
“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,” Alito wrote.
Authority to regulate abortion rests with the political branches, not the courts, Alito wrote.
Joining Alito were Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. The latter three justices are Trump appointees. Thomas first voted to overrule Roe 30 years ago.
Chief Justice John Roberts would have stopped short of ending the abortion right, noting that he would have upheld the Mississippi law at the heart of the case, a ban on abortion after 15 weeks, and said no more.
Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, the diminished liberal wing of the court, were in dissent.
“With sorrow—for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection—we dissent,” they wrote.
The ruling is expected to disproportionately affect minority women who already face limited access to health care, according to statistics analyzed by The Associated Press.