Protests are continuing in cities and towns across America after the Supreme Court stripped away constitutional protection for those seeking abortions. The court overturned the landmark ruling of Roe v Wade, a move that is likely to lead to bans on abortions in roughly half of states. Pregnant women considering abortions were already dealing with a near-complete ban in Oklahoma and a ban after roughly six weeks in Texas. Clinics in at least eight other states - Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and West Virginia - have stopped performing abortions following the decision. The US Supreme Court on Friday terminated the right to abortion in a seismic ruling that shreds half a century of constitutional protections on one of the most divisive and bitterly fought issues in American political life. The court overturned the landmark 1973 “Roe v Wade” decision that enshrined a woman’s right to an abortion, noting that individual states can now permit or restrict the procedure themselves. The ruling was the result of a staggeringly successful generational quest by the conservative movement at all political levels, from grassroots social and religious activists through the founding leaders of a right-wing legal establishment to successive Republican presidents.
“The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives,” the court said.
In the majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito said “abortion presents a profound moral issue on which Americans hold sharply conflicting views.
“The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion,” he said.
Democrats working through phases of disbelief, fury and pain on the latest development vowed to fight back. But their mission, like that of their conservative vanquishers, could last decades or even longer in pursuit of a distant goal.
The Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, all condemned the supreme court’s overruling of the landmark Roe v Wade decision, while New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, said the decision was “incredibly upsetting”. “Watching the removal of a woman’s fundamental right to make decisions over their own body is incredibly upsetting,” she said.
“Here in New Zealand we recently legislated to decriminalise abortion and treat it as a health rather than criminal issue.
“That change was grounded in the fundamental belief that it’s a woman’s right to choose. People are absolutely entitled to have deeply held convictions on this issue. But those personal beliefs should never rob another from making their own decisions.
“To see that principle now lost in the United States feels like a loss for women everywhere. When there are so many issues to tackle, so many challenges that face women and girls, we need progress, not to fight the same fights and move backwards.”
Johnson described the court ruling as a “big step backwards”, and hundreds took to the streets of London and Edinburgh to demonstrate against the decision.