‘We are angry – angry and determined. We will not go back. Not now. Not ever.’ The powerful words of Elizabeth Warren today as the US the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade – the the 1973 landmark ruling that legalised abortion across America.
But what does it mean exactly, and what happens next?
Technically today’s ruling means that there is no longer any constitutional right to an abortion in America. Instead, every state is permitted to set their own abortion policy, including banning all abortions in their state.
The significance of the ruling will be widespread.
The right to abortion has been protected under the US constitution for 50 years. According to Heather Shumarker, the director of state abortion access at the National Women’s Law Center, overturning that legal precedent will have “a devastating impact on the health and lives of women and all people who can become pregnant.”
“Hold onto hope. Do not give into despair.”
The problem, according to some, is that banning abortion won’t necessarily stop abortion. Throughout history women have done that. The question will now be, is it safe? Will it end up underground? What rights are next?
Many US states have passed laws that protect abortion. Others will allow it but regulate it.
The decision by the US Supreme Court, most of which was leaked in early May, means that abortion rights will be rolled back in nearly half of the states immediately, with more restrictions likely to follow.
Inevitably, the upcoming elections will now focus on the decision as well as the court itself. But today’s news has provoked a lot of reaction.
US Senator, Elizabeth Warren took to social media with her message.
“Hold onto hope. Do not give into despair.’ She issued a statement earlier saying that ‘six radical Supreme Court Justices have overturned nearly 50 years of precedent stripping away the constitutional rights to an abortion. After decades of scheming, Republican politicians have finally forced their unpopular agenda on the rest of America. They have decided the government – not the person who is pregnant – should make a private health care decision and deny women the right to control their own bodies and futures”
Meanwhile Nancy Pelosi branded it “cruel and heart-wrenching” and that “American women today have less freedom than their mothers.”
“This cruel ruling is outrageous and heart-wrenching. But make no mistake: the rights of women and all Americans are on the ballot this November”.
Today’s decision is considered a momentous break from a half century of rulings on one of the nation’s most controversial issues, the result of which will be catastrophic for many who, according to journalist with Slate Magazine, Mark Joseph Stern, “will be forced to give birth against their will”.
“Some of them will die. Some will be fine, but some of them won’t.”
But the former Vice President Mike Pence disagreed. His reaction was simply that “today, life won.” In a statement today, he wrote “By overturning Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court of the US has given the American people a new beginning for life, and I commend the justices in the majority for having the courage of their convictions”.
According to Reuters research, about 71% of Americans – including majorities of Democrats and Republicans – say decisions about terminating a pregnancy should be left to a woman and her doctor, rather than regulated by the government.
Another recent poll, from Gallup found that 55% of Americans said they’re “pro-choice,” the highest level since 1995.
Either way, the reverberations of this decision will continue far into next year and no doubt impact many lives. It’s a win for Republicans and religious conservatives who want to limit or ban the procedure.
However, it will be the economically disadvantaged that are likely to be hit the hardest according to Sally Frank, professor of law at Drake University. She told Yahoo; “It’s the people who don’t have the means to travel. Those are the women who will try self-induced abortion or try to get medication however they can. Some of them will die. Some will be fine, but some of them won’t.”