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Protests spread, state abortion bans begin after US justices strike down Roe v. Wade

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The Supreme Court on Friday abolished women’s constitutional protections for abortion, a fundamental and deeply personal change for Americans’ lives after nearly half a century under Roe v. Wade. The court’s quashing of the landmark court ruling is likely to lead to abortion bans in about half of the states.

The ruling, unthinkable just a few years ago, was the culmination of decades of efforts by abortion opponents, made possible by an emboldened right wing of the court, bolstered by three appointees to former President Donald Trump.

Both sides predicted that the fight over abortion would continue in state capitals, in Washington and at the polls. Judge Clarence Thomas, who is part of Friday’s majority, urged colleagues to overturn other Supreme Court rulings protecting same-sex marriage, gay sex and contraceptive use.

Pregnant women considering abortion have already faced an almost complete ban in Oklahoma and a ban after about six weeks in Texas. Clinics in at least eight other states — Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, South Dakota, Wisconsin and West Virginia — stopped performing abortions after Friday’s decision.

In Ohio, a ban on most abortions at the first observable fetal heartbeat became law when a federal judge overturned a ban that had suspended the measure for nearly three years. And Utah’s law was activated by the ruling and went into effect with minor exceptions.

Abortion enemies welcomed the ruling, but abortion rights advocates, including President Joe Biden, expressed their dismay and pledged to fight to restore rights.

Protests built up into the evening in a number of cities, including thousands demonstrating against the decision outside the barricaded Supreme Court. Thousands of others chanted “We will rise!” in New York’s Washington Square.

At the White House, Biden said: “It’s a sad day for the court and for the country.” He urged voters to make it a key issue in the November election, declaring, “This decision should not be the last word.”

‘You have let us down’

Outside the White House, Ansley Cole, an Atlanta student, said she was “afraid because what are they going to come up with next?” … The next election cycle will be brutal, as if it were terrifying. And if they’re going to do this, again, what’s the next step?”

“You’ve let us down,” read a sign held up by a protester. “Too bad,” said another.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of SBA Pro-Life America, agreed on the political stakes.

“We are ready to go on the offensive for life in every one of those legislative bodies, in every state house and in the White House,” Dannenfelser said in a statement.

Trump praised the ruling, telling Fox News it “will work for everyone.”

The decision is expected to disproportionately affect minority women who already have limited access to health care, according to statistics analyzed by The Associated Press.

It also puts the court at odds with a majority of Americans who favored retaining Roe, according to polls.

Surveys conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and others have shown that a majority support the legality of abortion in all or most circumstances. But many also support restrictions, especially later in pregnancy. Surveys consistently show that about 1 in 10 Americans want abortion to be illegal in all cases.

The ruling came more than a month after the astonishing leak of a draft opinion from Judge Samuel Alito showing the court was prepared to take this important step.

Alito wrote in Friday’s final opinion that Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 decision reaffirming the right to abortion, was wrong and should be reversed.

“We therefore believe that the Constitution does not grant the right to abortion. Roe and Casey must be overruled and the power to regulate abortion returned to the people and their elected representatives,” Alito wrote in an opinion that closely resembled the leaked draft.

With Alito, Thomas and Justices were Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett. The last three judges were appointed by Trump. Thomas first voted to reject Roe 30 years ago.

6-3 votes

Four judges are said to have left Roe and Casey in place.

The vote was 6-3 to uphold Mississippi’s law banning most abortions after 15 weeks, but Chief Justice John Roberts did not join his conservative colleagues in overthrowing Roe. He wrote that there was no need to overturn broad precedents to rule in Mississippi’s favor.

Judges Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — the court’s diminished liberal wing — disagreed.

“With sadness — for this Court, but more so for the many millions of American women who have lost fundamental constitutional protections today — we disagree,” they wrote, warning that abortion opponents could now pursue a nationwide ban “starting.” the moment of conception and without exceptions for rape or incest.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement that the Department of Justice will protect health care providers and those seeking abortion in states where it is legal and “cooperate with other branches of the federal government that wish to use their lawful authorities to restrict access to reproductive health services.” care to protect and maintain. †

Notably, Garland said the federal Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of Mifepristone for drug abortions.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights, more than 90% of abortions occur in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy, and more than half are now done with pills, not surgery.

The only abortion clinic in Mississippi, which was central to Friday’s case, continued to see patients on Friday. Men outside used a megaphone to tell the people inside that they would burn in hell. Clinic attendants wearing colorful vests used large loudspeakers to blast Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” at the protesters.

Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky and Missouri are among the 13 states, mostly in the South and Midwest, that already have laws to ban abortion in the event Roe were destroyed. Another half a dozen states have almost total bans or bans after 6 weeks of pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant.

About half a dozen other states, including West Virginia and Wisconsin, will battle over dormant abortion bans enacted before Roe’s 1973 decision or over new proposals to severely limit abortions, Guttmacher said.

Outside the barricaded Supreme Court, a crowd of mostly young women grew to hundreds within hours of the decision. Some shouted, “The Supreme Court is illegal,” while waves of others, dressed in red shirts with “The Pro-Life Generation Votes,” celebrated, danced and raised their arms.

Other rights ‘at risk’

The Biden administration and other abortion rights advocates have warned that a decision quashing Roe would also threaten other Supreme Court decisions in favor of gay rights and possibly even contraception.

The liberal judges made the same point in their shared dissent: the majority “eliminates a 50-year-old constitutional right guaranteeing women’s freedom and equality. It violates a core rule of law intended to promote steadfastness in the law. By doing all that, it jeopardizes other rights, from birth control to same-sex intimacy and marriage. And finally, it undermines the legitimacy of the Court.”

And Thomas, the court member most open to jettisoning previous decisions, wrote a separate advisory that explicitly called on his colleagues to bring the Supreme Court’s issues of same-sex marriage, gay sex and contraception on the table.

But Alito claimed that his analysis covered only abortion. “Nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents not related to abortion,” he wrote.

Whatever the intentions of the person who leaked Alito’s draft opinion, the Conservatives held out in overthrowing Roe and Casey.

In his opinion, Alito rejected arguments for upholding the two decisions, including the fact that several generations of American women have relied in part on the right to abortion to gain economic and political power.

Changing the composition of the court was central to the strategy of the anti-abortion side, as the dissenters nemesis pointed out. “The Court is turning its course today for one reason and one reason only: because the composition of this Court has changed,” the Liberal judges wrote.

Mississippi and its allies made increasingly aggressive arguments as the case progressed, and two Supreme Court abortion rights defenders retired or died. The state initially argued that its law could be enforced without overturning the court’s precedents on abortion.

Judge Anthony Kennedy retired shortly after the Mississippi law went into effect in 2018, and Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in September 2020. Both were members of a majority of five judges primarily protecting abortion rights.

During their Senate hearings, the Trump Supreme Court’s three picks carefully sidestepped questions about how they would vote in each case, including abortion.

(FRANCE 24 with AP and AFP)

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