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What does Roe v Wade being overturned mean? Votes, significance, and all you need to know as Supreme Court strikes down landmark ruling

A protestor of the Roe vWade overturning (Image via Alex Wong/Getty Images)
A protestor of the Roe vWade overturning (Image via Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Abhirup Sengupta

With a 6-3 split vote, the US Supreme Court passed its decision to overturn the historical Roe v Wade ruling on Friday, June 24. The previous 410 US 113 ruling from the Supreme Court at the time established the rights of pregnant women regarding abortions.

The legality of the decision to terminate a pregnancy now lies with individual states.

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According to CNBC, this new ruling will enable around half the states to impose severe restrictions on abortions. Some of these states are also expected to outrightly ban the medical procedure.


Roe v Wade ruling was "egregiously wrong" - Justice Alito

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Conservative Justice Samuel Alito addressed SCOTUS' decision to strike down the ruling. In the document, Alito wrote:

"The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision."

The 72-year-old associate Justice further mentioned:

"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."

Alito did not sway much from his points in the draft that leaked last month. In May, Politico obtained a draft opinion from the case, which hinted that the court would overturn the landmark ruling.

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Following the ruling, the three liberal justices — Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan — present in the courthouse released a joint statement. As per Reuters, they wrote:

"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…from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of. A state can force her to bring a pregnancy to term, even at the steepest personal and familial costs."

The overturning of Roe v Wade and the legal process leading up to it have been quite divisive, with pro-abortion activists claiming that most pregnancies aren't detected by six weeks.


What rights did Roe v Wade grant to pregnant women?

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While the 1973 decision of Roe v Wade ruling by the US Supreme Court did not legalize abortions, it protected the rights of women to have an abortion. As per the now-overturned ruling, the state did not have any authority over the abortion of a fetus during the first trimester (12 weeks, as per the court).

The state could interfere with the decision to abort a pregnancy beyond the first trimester, with the authority to prohibit abortions unless the pregnancy poses a medical threat to the mother.

However, states will now have the authority to prohibit abortions even during the first trimester if the pregnancy is over six weeks (like in Texas) or more. The decision is based on Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization on 2018's Mississippi bill, which did not allow any abortion beyond 15 weeks. Now, around 13 Republican-majority states are expected to outlaw abortion altogether.


Edited by Rhythm Bhatia

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