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US Supreme Court overturns liberal abortion law

United States | Supreme Court | Protests against amendment to abortion law

The most conservative Supreme Court in Washington is paving the way for stricter abortion laws. President Joe Biden spoke of a “tragic mistake”.

Six of the nine judges voted in favor of the decision, the Supreme Court said. “The constitution does not grant the right to an abortion,” the verdict says. The decision was already apparent after a draft judgment had been pushed through in early May. This means that abortion rights in the United States are history. The decision is seen as a political earthquake.

US President Joe Biden called the verdict a “tragic mistake”. The decision goes back to an “extreme ideology” and has “taken away a constitutional right” from women in the United States, Biden said in Washington. “The health and lives of the women of this country are now at risk,” the President warned.

USA President Biden Roe vs. Wade
US President Joe Biden criticized the abortion ruling and announced opposition

“I will do everything in my power to combat this deeply un-American attack.” The US Congress must act now to have the final say on the matter. “It’s not over,” Biden said.

The ruling caused cheers among Republicans and religious conservatives who had been working towards this decision for decades. “We applaud this historic decision that will save countless innocent lives,” senior Republicans in Congress Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise, and Elise Stefanik wrote in a joint statement. Democrats and women’s rights activists were appalled. “This cruel verdict is outrageous and heartbreaking,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

United States | Nancy Pelosi | Speaker of the House of Representatives
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the verdict “cruel”

In a landmark decision in 1973, the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade allows abortions nationwide until the fetus is viable, i.e. up to about 24 weeks gestation. At the time, the court derived a federal right to abortion from women’s right to privacy.

States can decide now

With the new Supreme Court ruling, the 50 states in the USA can decide on abortion right at the respective state level. Several of them have already enacted laws that severely restrict abortion now that the federal regulation has been removed. A federal abortion law proposed by the Democrats failed in the Senate in mid-May.

United States Washington | Anti-abortion advocates rejoice over Roe v. calf
Anti-abortion activists celebrate US Supreme Court ruling

After the landmark judgment, women’s and pro-choice groups expect abortion tourism to increase from “red,” meaning Republican-governed states, to “blue,” meaning Democratic-governed states.

Sharp criticism from the United Nations

The United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights has sharply criticized the Supreme Court’s decision. This is “a terrible blow to women’s human rights,” said UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet. “Access to safe, legal and effective abortion is firmly enshrined in international human rights law.”

The restriction of the right to abortion is a “significant step backward,” Bachelet explained. The freedom to terminate pregnancies legally and under medical supervision “is central to women’s autonomy and their ability to make their own choices”.

The Vatican reacts moderately

The Pontifical Academy reacted moderately to the abortion ruling. In a statement it said: “After 50 years, it is important to start again an ideology-free debate about the place that the protection of life has in civil society, to ask us what kind of coexistence and society we want to build. ” Pope Francis, who initially gave no personal reaction to the verdict, had always emphasized that he was against any form of abortion; he equated it with murder.

The Catholic bishops in the US were more positive. “This is a historic day in the life of our country that stirs our thoughts, feelings, and prayers.” For half a century, America has enforced an unjust law that allowed some “to choose whether others live or die,” a statement from the US bishops’ conference said.

Abortion rights are a frequent topic of heated debate in the USA. Opponents have been trying to overturn the liberal rules for decades. Under the previous President Donald Trump, the Supreme Court moved significantly to the right. He described the decision against the liberal abortion law as “a win for life”. The verdict was only possible because he had appointed three conservative judges to the Supreme Court. The Republican-appointed Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett during his tenure. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan and Justice Stephen Breyer voted against the decision. They are considered liberal.

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