In its landmark ruling today, the US Supreme Court removed federal abortion protections in the United States.
In their decision to strike down Roe v Wade – a 1973 court verdict protecting women’s right to an abortion on federal level, the US Supreme Court justices handed all the responsibility for legalizing or banning the abortion to individual states.
“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,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the opinion.
Conservative Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett sided with Alito in the court’s majority opinion.
Liberal Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented from the majority opinion.
Chief Justice John Roberts said he would have stopped short of ending the right to abortion but would have upheld the Mississippi law at the center of the initial case which centered on the constitutionality of a state law banning abortions after the first 15 weeks of pregnancy.
While the decision to overturn Roe is guaranteed to ignite widespread protests all over the country, it does not come as a surprise, as a draft of Alito’s opinion was leaked earlier this year.
Several states have had their own abortion protections on standby in anticipation to Roe being struck down, while others have taken the pending decision as a green light to move forward on abortion bans.
The removal of federal protection leaves slightly fewer than half of US states with laws restricting abortions.