By Carol Zimmermann
WASHINGTON — In a 6-3 decision June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its nearly 50-year-old decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion in this country.
The court’s 213-page ruling in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization was not totally unexpected due to the leak of an opinion draft a month earlier. The ruling emphasizes that there is no constitutional right to abortion in the United States.
The Dobbs case focused on an abortion clinic in Mississippi opposed to the state’s law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
The court’s reversal of its long-standing abortion ruling brings abortion policy decisions to the state level. At least half of states plan to ban or restrict abortions with this decision in place.
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the court’s opinion. Casey v. Planned Parenthood is the 1992 decision that affirmed Roe.
“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 14th Amendment,” he added.
U.S. Catholic bishops who have supported a reversal of Roe immediately reacted positively to the court’s decision that comes at the end of this year’s term.
“We give thanks to God for today’s decision … This just decision will save countless innocent children simply waiting to be born,” said a June 24 statement by the New York Catholic bishops shortly after the court’s opinion was released.
Philadelphia Archbishop Nelson J. Perez tweeted that the decision “affirms deep value inherent in human life.”
Protesters were outside the court when the ruling came down, as they have been for days, anticipating it. Those on both sides of issue were also at the court when the document first leaked.
The Dobbs opinion is similar to the leaked draft that called Roe “egregiously wrong from the start.”
Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan wrote a joint dissent that said: “Whatever the exact scope of the coming laws, one result of today’s decision is certain: the curtailment of women’s rights, and of their status as free and equal citizens.”
They also noted that their dissent “with sorrow — for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection.”