The ruling came more than a month after the leak of a draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito indicating the court was prepared to take this momentous step.
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How did the justices vote?
The SCOTUS has a six-member conservative majority, including three of former President Donald Trump’s nominees.
Justice Samuel Alito, in his majority opinion, wrote, “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.”
Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan opposed the overturn. “With sorrow — for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection — we dissent,” the wrote in the dissenting opinion.
Chief Justice John Roberts, who was nominated by Republican President George W. Bush, did not vote with the majority. In his concurring opinion, the 67-year-old said that he would not have overturned Roe but instead would have only uphold Mississippi’s law banning abortions after 15 weeks.
Thirteen states, mainly in the South and Midwest, already have laws on the books that ban abortion in the event Roe is 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, 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 the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.
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 data compiled by Guttmacher.
The decision came against a backdrop of public opinion surveys that find a majority of Americans oppose overturning Roe and handing the question of whether to permit abortion entirely to the states. Polls conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and others also have consistently shown about 1 in 10 Americans want abortion to be illegal in all cases. A majority are in favor of abortion being legal in all or most circumstances, but polls indicate many also support restrictions especially later in pregnancy.