The United States Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion-on-demand with minimal restrictions throughout the United States. It also overturned Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1992 decision that upheld Roe.
In the landmark case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, the court ruled 5-1-3 that there was no justification for taking this issue out of the hands of state legislatures, and that the U.S. Constitution does not protect a so-called right to abortion. The effect of this ruling will be to return the issue to the states. It is likely that there will now be a patchwork of differing legal statuses for abortion across the United States, with some states imposing few (if any) restrictions and others essentially outlawing it.
The court has not ruled on the legality of abortion itself, which is a violation of the fundamental human right to life under natural law and must be prohibited in most cases by just governments. It does, however, open the door for state legislatures to reassert and protect this right.
The majority opinion in this case was written by Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Clarence Thomas. Justices Kavanaugh and Thomas each issued concurring opinions. Chief Justice John Roberts issued an opinion concurring only in the judgement. Justices Stephen Breyer, Elana Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor issued a jointly-authored dissenting opinion.
We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely—the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, Majority Opinion, Page 5
Full Text of Decision:
- Dobbs, State Health Officer of the Mississippi Department of Health, et al., v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, et al., 2022 (PDF link)
Full Text of Overturned Decisions:
- Roe et al., v. Wade, District Attorney of Dallas County, 1973 (PDF link)
- Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania, et al., v. Casey, Governor of Pennsylvania, et al., 1992 (PDF link)
Related Content by Scott Bradford:
- What Are Human Rights?
- The First Right: Life
- “That Among These is Life . . . ”
- A Letter to Governor Northam
- The Gunpowder Plot and Planned Parenthood
Updated June 24, 2022, 12:58 p.m.: This post originally characterized the ruling as being “6-3,” however only five justices joined in the majority opinion. Chief Justice John Roberts did not join the majority opinion and concurred only with its judgement. Thus, the ruling is more correctly characterized as “5-1-3.” The post has been corrected.