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SCOTUS Overturns Roe V. Wade           06/25 07:53

   The Supreme Court on Friday stripped away women's constitutional protections 
for abortion, a fundamental and deeply personal change for Americans' lives 
after nearly a half-century under Roe v. Wade. The court's overturning of the 
landmark court ruling is likely to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the 
states.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court on Friday stripped away women's 
constitutional protections for abortion, a fundamental and deeply personal 
change for Americans' lives after nearly a half-century under Roe v. Wade. The 
court's overturning of the landmark court ruling is likely to lead to abortion 
bans in roughly half the states.

   The ruling, unthinkable just a few years ago, was the culmination of decades 
of efforts by abortion opponents, made possible by an emboldened right side of 
the court fortified by three appointees of former President Donald Trump.

   Both sides predicted the fight over abortion would continue, in state 
capitals, in Washington and at the ballot box. Justice Clarence Thomas, part of 
Friday's majority, urged colleagues to overturn other high court rulings 
protecting same-sex marriage, gay sex and the use of contraceptives.

   Pregnant women considering abortions already had been dealing with a 
near-complete ban in Oklahoma and a prohibition after roughly six weeks in 
Texas. Clinics in at least eight other states -- Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, 
Kentucky, Missouri, South Dakota, Wisconsin and West Virginia -- stopped 
performing abortions after Friday's decision.

   In Ohio, a ban on most abortions at the first detectable fetal heartbeat 
became the law when a federal judge dissolved an injunction that had kept the 
measure on hold for nearly three years. And Utah's law was triggered by the 
ruling, going into effect with narrow exceptions.

   Abortion foes cheered the ruling, but abortion-rights supporters, including 
President Joe Biden, expressed dismay and pledged to fight to restore the 
rights.

   Protests built into the evening in a number of cities, including thousands 
demonstrating against the decision outside the barricaded Supreme Court. 
Thousands more chanted "We will rise up!" in New York's Washington Square.

   At the White House, Biden said, "It's a sad day for the court and for the 
country." He urged voters to make it a defining issue in the November 
elections, declaring, "This decision must not be the final word."

   Outside the White House, Ansley Cole, a college student from Atlanta, said 
she was "scared because what are they going to come after next? ... The next 
election cycle is going to be brutal, like it's terrifying. And if they're 
going to do this, again, what's next?"

   Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of SBA Pro-Life America, agreed about the 
political stakes.

   "We are ready to go on offense for life in every single one of those 
legislative bodies, in each statehouse and the White House," Dannenfelser said 
in a statement.

   Trump praised the ruling, telling Fox News that it "will work out for 
everybody."

   The decision is expected to disproportionately affect minority women who 
already face limited access to health care, according to statistics analyzed by 
The Associated Press.

   It also puts the court at odds with a majority of Americans who favored 
preserving Roe, according to opinion polls.

   Surveys conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs 
Research and others have shown a majority in favor of abortion being legal in 
all or most circumstances. But many also support restrictions especially later 
in pregnancy. Surveys consistently show that about 1 in 10 Americans want 
abortion to be illegal in all cases.

   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.

   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 had and to be be overturned.

   "We therefore hold that the Constitution does not confer a right to 
abortion. Roe and Casey must be overruled, and the authority to regulate 
abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives," 
Alito wrote, in an opinion that was very similar to the leaked draft.

   Joining Alito were Thomas and Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy 
Coney Barrett. The last three justices are Trump appointees. Thomas first voted 
to overrule Roe 30 years ago.

   Four justices would have left Roe and Casey in place.

   The vote was 6-3 to uphold Mississippi's law banning most abortions after 15 
weeks, but Chief Justice John Roberts didn't join his conservative colleagues 
in overturning Roe. He wrote that there was no need to overturn the broad 
precedents to rule in Mississippi's favor.

   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, warning that abortion opponents now could pursue a 
nationwide ban "from the moment of conception and without exceptions for rape 
or incest."

   Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement that the Justice 
Department will protect providers and those seeking abortions in states where 
it is legal and "work with other arms of the federal government that seek to 
use their lawful authorities to protect and preserve access to reproductive 
care."

   In particular, Garland said the federal Food and Drug Administration has 
approved the use of Mifepristone for medication abortions.

   More than 90% of abortions take place in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy, 
and more than half are now done with pills, not surgery, according to the 
Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.

   Mississippi's only abortion clinic, which was at the center of Friday's 
case, continued to see patients Friday. Outside, men used a bullhorn to tell 
people inside that they would burn in hell. Clinic escorts wearing colorful 
vests used large speakers to blast Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down" at the 
protesters.

   Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky and Missouri are among 13 states, mainly in 
the South and Midwest, that already have laws on the books to ban abortion in 
the event Roe was overturned. Another half-dozen states have near-total bans or 
prohibitions after 6 weeks of pregnancy, before many women know they are 
pregnant.

   In roughly a half-dozen other states, including West Virginia and Wisconsin, 
the fight will be over dormant abortion bans that were enacted before Roe was 
decided in 1973 or new proposals to sharply limit when abortions can be 
performed, according to Guttmacher.

   Outside the barricaded Supreme Court, a crowd of mostly young women grew 
into the hundreds within hours of the decision. Some shouted, "The Supreme 
Court is illegitimate," while waves of others, wearing red shirts with "The 
Pro-Life Generation Votes," celebrated, danced and thrust their arms into the 
air.

   The Biden administration and other defenders of abortion rights have warned 
that a decision overturning Roe also would threaten other high court decisions 
in favor of gay rights and even potentially contraception.

   The liberal justices made the same point in their joint dissent: The 
majority "eliminates a 50-year-old constitutional right that safeguards women's 
freedom and equal station. It breaches a core rule-of-law principle, designed 
to promote constancy in the law. In doing all of that, it places in jeopardy 
other rights, from contraception to same-sex intimacy and marriage. And 
finally, it undermines the Court's legitimacy."

   And Thomas, the member of the court most open to jettisoning prior 
decisions, wrote a separate opinion in which he explicitly called on his 
colleagues to put the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage, gay sex and 
contraception cases on the table.

   But Alito contended that his analysis addresses abortion only. "Nothing in 
this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not 
concern abortion," he wrote.

   Whatever the intentions of the person who leaked Alito's draft opinion, the 
conservatives held firm in overturning Roe and Casey.

   In his opinion, Alito dismissed the arguments in favor of retaining the two 
decisions, including that multiple generations of American women have partly 
relied on the right to abortion to gain economic and political power.

   Changing the makeup of the court has been central to the anti-abortion 
side's strategy, as the dissenters archly noted. "The Court reverses course 
today for one reason and one reason only: because the composition of this Court 
has changed," the liberal justices wrote.

   Mississippi and its allies made increasingly aggressive arguments as the 
case developed, and two high-court defenders of abortion rights retired or 
died. The state initially argued that its law could be upheld without 
overruling the court's abortion precedents.

   Justice Anthony Kennedy retired shortly after the Mississippi law took 
effect in 2018 and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in September 2020. Both had 
been members of a five-justice majority that was mainly protective of abortion 
rights.

   In their Senate hearings, Trump's three high-court picks carefully skirted 
questions about how they would vote in any cases, including about abortion.

 
 
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