The US Supreme Court on Friday struck down Roe v. Wade, ending the constitutional right to abortion nearly 50 years after it was established, and leaving numerous states free to entirely ban abortions.
The Court voted 6-3 to strike down the landmark 1973 decision as well as the 1992 follow-up Planned Parenthood v. Casey, with all of the conservative justices joining the majority. Justice Samuel Alito, the author of the majority opinion, said the original Roe decision was “egregiously wrong” and compared it to the infamous 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson, which established the “separate but equal” doctrine underpinning Jim Crow.
“Like the infamous decision in Plessy v. Ferguson,” Alito wrote, “Roe was also egregiously wrong and on a collision course with the Constitution from the day it was decided.”
Alito further argued that the 14th Amendment doesn’t confer a right to an abortion and that reproductive rights are not “rooted in the Nation’s history and tradition.”
The three liberal justices in their dissent said that the decision discards precedent and will imperil the lives and safety of women nationwide.
“[The court] says that from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of,” the liberal justices said. “A State can force her to bring a pregnancy to term, even at the steepest personal and familial costs.”
The court’s decision in the case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, to overturn Roe has been known since Alito’s draft opinion was leaked to Politico back in May. With Roe now officially overturned, the right to abortion is now a relic of history for millions of Americans; more than a dozen states had “trigger” laws on the books immediately banning abortion upon the overturning of Roe, while numerous others are likely to ban the practice soon.
While anti-abortion advocates have said they’re hopeful for a full federal ban, for now abortion remains legal in New York, and state leaders have since the decision leaked sought to present the Empire State as a “beacon” for people from around the nation seeking reproductive health care. Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement Friday that the state will remain a “safe harbor.”
“Today, the Supreme Court took away the right of millions of Americans to make decisions about their own bodies. This decision is a grave injustice,” Hochul said in a statement. “The right to reproductive healthcare is a fundamental human right. History shows us that when abortion is banned, abortion becomes unsafe for women. Low-income individuals and people of color will be harmed the most. New York has always been a beacon for those yearning to be free. Our state will always be a safe harbor for those seeking access to abortion care. To anyone who is working to deny abortion access, our message is clear: not here, not now, not ever.”
In anticipation of the ruling, Hochul earmarked $35 million last month for local abortion clinics statewide. The funding is also intended to pay for abortions for out-of-state patients traveling to New York in search of one.
Mayor Eric Adams said that the court’s decision is an “affront to basic human rights” and lambasted the justices’ decisions in Dobbs and in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, which overturned New York’s strict concealed carry firearm permitting law and dropped on Thursday.
“Two days in a row, politics came before people at the highest court in the land, and, as a result, the health of our nation now hangs in jeopardy,” Adams said in a statement, also noting that the city would remain a safe haven for reproductive healthcare. “What the court has done today ignores the opinions of the majority of Americans, as it helps states control women’s bodies, their choices, and their freedoms. There is nothing to call this Supreme Court opinion but an affront to basic human rights and one that aims to shackle women and others in reproductive bondage.”
At a rally outside City Hall, Adams said that Senate Democrats should pack the court to prevent further erosion of civil rights.
“The expansion of the Supreme Court is crucial,” Adams said. “We need to balance out this court before they do more harm than what they have done thus far.”
The decision is likely to spur protests in New York and across the nation, with millions of Americans now living for the first time without the constitutional right to an abortion.