The Supreme Court issued its decision today in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s’ Health Organization, declaring that the Constitution does not grant the right to an abortion, thus overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
The decision came nearly two months after a leaked draft of the majority opinion was published by Politico. That leaked draft indicated that the court was ready to overturn the precedent that the Fourteenth Amendment protected a pregnant woman’s “right” to an abortion.
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” a section of the majority opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, reads. “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.”
“Until the latter part of the 20th century, such a right was entirely unknown in American law,” the majority opinion continues. “Indeed, when the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted, three quarters of the States made abortion a crime at all stages of pregnancy.”
The vote was 5-4 to overturn Roe, with Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett joining Alito. Chief Justice John Roberts upheld the Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks but did not vote to overturn Roe.
Dissenting were Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.
Breyer authored the dissenting opinion and expressed concern that states will now move to criminalize abortion. “Enforcement of all these draconian restrictions will also be left largely to the States’ devices,” he wrote. “A State can of course impose criminal penalties on abortion providers, including lengthy prison sentences. But some States will not stop there. Perhaps, in the wake of today’s decision, a state law will criminalize the woman’s conduct too, incarcerating or fining her for daring to seek or obtain an abortion.”
The court’s ruling does not outlaw abortion nationwide, but instead returns the issue of abortion back to the states.
Former Vice President Mike Pence said the court’s ruling “righted a historic wrong” and called for all states to protect life.
“Now that Roe v. Wade has been consigned to the ash heap of history, a new arena in the cause of life has emerged and it is incumbent on all who cherish the sanctity of life to resolve that we will take the defense of the unborn and support for women in crisis pregnancies to every state Capitol in America,” Pence said in a statement.
(To read the Supreme Court’s decision, click here.)