WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has ended constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place nearly 50 years — a decision by its conservative majority to overturn the court’s landmark abortion cases.
Friday’s outcome overturning Roe v. Wade is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states.
The decision, 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 that has been fortified by three appointees of former President Donald Trump.
Three of the court’s liberal justices wrote in a joint dissent that the decision would bring “sorrow” for the many millions of American women will be losing a “fundamental constitutional protection.”
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.
The decision to undo nearly 50 years of precedent will have sweeping ramifications for tens of millions of women across the country as abortion rights are curtailed, particularly in GOP-led states in the South and Midwest, and lead to a patchwork of laws absent the constitutional protection.
Thirteen states have so-called “trigger laws” on the books, in which abortion will swiftly be outlawed in most cases with Roe overturned.
With the reversal of Roe and the 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which reaffirmed Roe’s central holding and said states cannot enact restrictions that imposes an undue burden on the right to an abortion before viability, roughly 26 states are likely to or will restrict abortion with the Supreme Court’s decision, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights research organization.
In anticipation of the ruling, governors of Republican-led states, including Oklahoma and Florida, signed new limits into law.
Friday’s ruling came in a case involving a Mississippi law that banned abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, and the court reversed the decision of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which blocked the measure.
Justice Samuel Alito delivered the opinion for the court, and was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.
Chief Justice John Roberts delivered a concurring opinion, writing that while he agrees that the viability line established under Roe should be discarded and Mississippi’s law upheld, Roe and Casey should be left untouched.
The court’s three liberal justices dissented.
The Associated Press and CBS News contributed to this report.