The U.S. Supreme Court has overturned its 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide for nearly 50 years. The ruling came in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
The case challenged Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban, and whether it was unconstitutional. It was enacted in 2018 but was blocked after a federal court challenge.
The state of Mississippi asked the high court to uphold its law and directly challenged the precedent in Roe and the 1992 Casey v. Planned Parenthood that held that states cannot ban pre-viability abortions, those done before a child can survive outside the womb.
Friday's outcome 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 pro-life advocates.
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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 the day they were decided and must be overturned.
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision,” Alito wrote.
Authority to regulate abortion rests with the political branches, not the courts, Alito wrote.
Joining Alito were Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. The latter three justices are Trump appointees. Thomas first voted to overrule Roe 30 years ago.
Chief Justice John Roberts would have stopped short of ending the abortion right, noting that he would have upheld the Mississippi law at the heart of the case, a ban on abortion after 15 weeks, and said no more.
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.
President Joe Biden said Friday he would try to preserve access to abortion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, and he called on Americans to elect more Democrats who would safeguard rights upended by the court's decision. “This is not over,” he declared.
As CBN News has reported, since Roe has been overturned by the high court, thirteen states have trigger laws in place to prohibit abortion. The issue will now shift to the state legislatures.
Those existing laws have been estimated to possibly close approximately 202 clinics or 26% of all publicly advertised abortion facilities in the U.S., according to a recent study from Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), a program within the University of California San Francisco's Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health.
According to the study, among all U.S. states, California had the most abortion facilities, with 168 open facilities as of 2021, followed by New York (89) and Florida (55).
California alone had more abortion facilities than the 34 states with the fewest number of them combined and nearly as many clinics as could be found in the entire South, according to the study.
As CBN News has reported, California is moving to dramatically expand and fund the number of abortions performed in the state. It is nationally known for its pro-abortion laws and policies and is positioning itself to serve as an abortion destination for women in states that would implement abortion bans in a post-Roe America.
California has even set up its own advisory Future of Abortion Council, a coalition of 40 pro-abortion groups whose goal is "to Protect, Strengthen, and Expand Abortion Services in California."
Pro-Life Advocates, Organizations, And Individuals Respond To Ruling
Friday's ruling by the high court was applauded by pro-life organizations and advocates across the country.
In a statement, Franklin Graham, president, and CEO of Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association said: "The United States Supreme Court just announced one of the most significant rulings in my lifetime—officially voting to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision because it was 'egregiously wrong from the start,' as stated by Justice Samuel Alito. The radical left is calling for a 'night of rage,' pregnancy centers are already being vandalized and attacked, and our U.S. Supreme Court justices are being targeted with threats and intimidation.
"Roe v. Wade, passed 49 years ago, has resulted in the deaths of over 63 million innocent children in this country. Sadly, this decision is not an end to abortion—it pushes the battle back to the states," Graham continued. "My prayer is that every state will enact protections for children in the womb and that our nation will value life and recognize the rights of our most vulnerable."
Victoria Cobb, president of The Family Foundation of Virginia noted this was a day "to celebrate the right of life of babies around the nation."
"Pro-Life advocates have worked for a generation to protect life, and we are thrilled that the Supreme Court finally recognized the horrific legal precedent of Roe and ruled in the favor of protecting life," Cobb said. "Today, we pause to celebrate the right to life of babies around the nation being protected, but tomorrow the work begins in Virginia to protect life throughout the Commonwealth."
Bart Barber, the newly-elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention also responded to Friday's ruling.
“Southern Baptists rejoice at the ruling that the United States Supreme Court has delivered today in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization," Barber said in a statement. "Since 1980, the Southern Baptist Convention has passed more than 20 resolutions on the question of abortion. We have consistently held these principles:
- That from the moment of conception until the moment of natural death all human beings are made in the image of God.
- That every human being is valuable and deserves to be loved and protected, regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, socio-economic status, disability, intelligence, or utility to society.
- That elective abortion should be prohibited by law except in cases wherein the life of the mother is endangered by carrying the baby to term.
- That expectant mothers facing difficult circumstances deserve the love and support of the church, the community, and society."
"These principles have motivated both our consistent support of the pro-life movement and our consistent support of crisis pregnancy centers, ministries to low-income families, foster care and adoption agencies, and other ministries of mercy to people in need. As we stated just days ago in a resolution at our 2022 Annual Meeting, in the post-Roe United States, “We commit to stand with and pray for abortion-vulnerable women, to eliminate any perceived need for the horror of abortion, and to oppose Planned Parenthood and other predatory organizations or institutions who exploit vulnerable women for profit.” State-by-state, mother-by-mother, heart-by-heart, we will continue our sacred work toward this goal," Barber's statement concluded.
In a statement, Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said, "Life wins!"
"Life wins! Millions of Americans are celebrating today’s ruling and a pro-life movement that has worked tirelessly for decades. For a half-century, unelected judges have dictated America’s abortion laws. This historic ruling rightfully returns power to the American people to enact laws that protect unborn children and support mothers everywhere," McDaniel saidl "As this debate now returns to the states and the American people, we know there is still much work ahead. Republicans will continue to advocate for life, uphold the law, and stand against an extreme Democrat Party’s pro-abortion agenda.”
Dr. James Dobson, founder and president of the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute noted in a statement that "Roe was egregiously wrong from the start."
“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Praise God! We have just received the news for which we have been praying and working! After nearly 50 years, a majority of Supreme Court justices, who refused to be intimidated by threats and violence, have finally struck down Roe v. Wade," Dobson said.
"Roe was built on a lie that somewhere hidden in our Constitution there existed a right to destroy children in the womb. The ruling in 1973 shocked the nation and divided the country. It was an exercise in raw judicial power. History will judge it as one of the court’s most shameful moments. But now the court has corrected its mistake," the founder of the Dr. James Dobson Family Institue, noted.
"Roe is dead, and, as a result, millions of innocent babies will have a chance to live and be welcomed into the world and protected by the promises of our Constitution and Declaration of Independence," Dobson said. "All of us who fought so hard to save innocent babies and to end the exploitation of women by the abortion industry has cause to celebrate and to thank God. This is a tremendous day for our country."
But Dobson also reminded pro-life individuals that the battle for life is not over, but the decision will now rest in each of the states.
"But the battle is not over. The court has taken the issue of abortion and returned it to the states. The people of each state will now have the opportunity to debate and to try to persuade their fellow citizens. Then they can reach their own conclusions on the fundamental issue of the sanctity of life and pass laws that reflect that consensus. All of us at JDFI will continue to be in that battle, and I pray to God you will be there, too," Dobson concluded.
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