Roe v. Wade, the court’s seminal 1973 decision that established abortion as a constitutional right, was overruled by the United States Supreme Court on Friday (June 24) by a 6-3 vote. The ruling, a preliminary version of which was obtained by “Politico” on May 3, would fundamentally alter how women live in America. About half of the states in the US will enact nearly complete abortion prohibitions.
The Missouri attorney general swiftly released an opinion activating the state’s “trigger” statute, essentially banning abortion except in cases of medical emergency, following the Supreme Court’s ruling on Friday, according to ‘The New York Times‘. Several other states also planned to implement trigger legislation.
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“Roe v. Wade” — what is it?
The 22-year-old complainant, Norma McCorvey, is referred to in the lawsuit as just “Roe” on occasion. Wade was the defendant and the district attorney for Dallas County (Texas) at the time.
In “Roe,” abortion was legalised up until the point of foetal viability, or the point at which a foetus may survive outside the womb, overturning legislation that had rendered it illegal in multiple states.
At the time of the “Roe” decision, nearly 50 years ago, foetal viability was approximately 28 weeks (7 months); experts now concur that medical advancements have lowered the threshold to 23 or 24 weeks (6 months or slightly less), and more recent studies suggest that this may even be as low as 22 weeks. About 40 weeks are usually required for a pregnancy.
The point at which the rights of the woman and the unborn foetus can be divided is sometimes referred to as “foetal viability.” Commonly, the beginning of a person’s most recent menstrual cycle is used to determine how long a pregnancy is. Pre-viability timeframes give women extremely little time and chance to decide whether to abort because many people don’t realise they’re pregnant until the sixth week.
This measure is used in abortion regulations all throughout the world, although opponents of abortion claim that it was chosen at random by lawmakers and the court in the “Roe” case.
What ruling on Roe v. Wade has the Supreme Court made?
Details of the ruling were not immediately available, but according to a draught opinion obtained by “Politico,” the opinion’s author, Justice Samuel Alito, rejected “Roe” as “egregiously wrong from the start” and declared that “Roe” and “Casey,” a 1992 landmark abortion ruling by the court that reaffirmed “Roe’s” main tenet that women have the right to terminate pregnancies up to the point of foetal viability
The “Mississippi case,” also known as Thomas E. Dobbs, State Health Officer of the Mississippi Department of Health v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, was the subject of Justice Alito’s majority opinion, which had received the support of four other conservative justices: Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., a sixth justice whose opinions were unknown at the time the “Politico” scoop was published, also voted to overturn “Roe.” Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, three Democratic-appointed justices, disagreed.
“It is time to obey the Constitution and restore the subject of abortion to the people’s elected representatives,” the majority view published by Politico said.
The draught judgement stated that ‘Roe’s “examination of history ranged from the manifestly erroneous to the legally irrelevant,” its justification was “exceptionally poor,” and the decision had “damaging repercussions.”
The inevitable conclusion, according to Alito, is that the nation’s history and customs do not provide a strong foundation for the right to abortion.
Why is the Supreme Court’s ruling significant?
Conservatives and liberals in the US have been fiercely divided on the subject of abortion for decades. A challenge to “Roe v. Wade” would have been unlikely to be successful until a few years ago, but the changes in the Supreme Court’s makeup brought about by the election of conservative Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett during the administration of Donald Trump sparked a new wave of legal action on the subject.
The Supreme Court’s resoundingly conservative majority provided the conservatives with their finest opportunity to overturn “Roe” in decades.
According to a previous article in “The NYT,” if “Roe” is overturned, legal abortion access might “essentially disappear for individuals living in most of the American South and Midwest, especially those who are poor,” depending on how the court framed its final verdict.
The overturning of “Roe” has been prophesied to cause “seismic” changes in American society by liberal observers. As a triumph for conservative right wing ideology, it will be an important decision with global repercussions.
What is India’s stance on abortion?
Abortion is legal in India up until 20 weeks of pregnancy under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971. The limit on abortions was increased to 24 weeks by a 2021 amendment, but only for specific groups of pregnant women, such as rape or incest survivors, and even then, only with the consent of two licensed physicians.
There is no time restriction for abortion in cases of foetal impairment, although this is permitted by a medical board made up of specialised doctors that was established by the governments of the states and union territories.