The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that recognized women’s constitutional right to abortion, a decision condemned by President Joe Biden that will dramatically change life for millions of women in America and exacerbate growing tensions in a deeply polarized country.
The court, in a 6-3 ruling powered by its conservative majority, upheld a Republican-backed Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The vote was 5-4 to overturn Roe, with conservative Chief Justice John Roberts writing separately to say he would have upheld the Mississippi law without taking the additional step of erasing the Roe precedent altogether.
The reverberations of the ruling will be felt far beyond the court’s high-security confines – potentially reshaping the battlefield in November’s elections to determine whether Biden’s fellow Democrats retain control of Congress and signaling a new openness by the justices to change other long-recognized rights.
The decision will also intensify debate over the legitimacy of the court, once an unassailable cornerstone of the American democratic system but increasingly under scrutiny for its more aggressively conservative decisions on a range of issues.
The ruling restored the ability of states to ban abortion. Twenty-six states are either certain or considered likely to ban abortion. Mississippi is among 13 states with so-called trigger laws to ban abortion with Roe overturned.