US Supreme Court strikes down right to abortion

US Supreme Court strikes down right to abortion


Protests broke out almost immediately in Washington and elsewhere.

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US Supreme Court on Friday struck down the right to abortion in a seismic ruling that shredded five decades of constitutional protections and prompted several right-leaning states to impose immediate bans.

Protests broke out almost immediately in Washington and elsewhere, with dozens of demonstrations under way or planned across the country.

The conservative-dominated court overturned the 1973 "Roe v. Wade", saying individual states can restrict or ban the procedure themselves.

"The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion," the court said in a 6-3 ruling on one of America’s most bitterly divisive issues. "The authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives."

A somber President Joe Biden called the ruling a "tragic error" stemming from "extreme ideology" and said it was a "sad day for the court and the country."

"The health and life of women in this nation are now at risk," Biden said, warning that other rights could be threatened next.

The Democratic president urged Congress to restore abortion protections as federal law and said Roe will be "on the ballot" in November’s midterm elections.


- ‘You have failed us’ -

Hundreds of people -- some weeping for joy and others with grief -- gathered outside the fenced-off Supreme Court as the ruling came down.

"You have failed us," read a sign held up by one protestor. "Shame," said a protestor.

But Gwen Charles, a 21-year-old opponent of abortion, was jubilant.

"This is the day that we have been waiting for," Charles told AFP. "We get to usher in a new culture of life in the United States."

Just hours after the ruling, Missouri banned abortion -- making no exception for rape or incest -- and so did South Dakota, except where the life of the mother is at risk.

"This is a monumental day for the sanctity of life," Missouri attorney general Eric Schmitt said.

As of Friday evening, at least seven states had banned abortion -- Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and South Dakota.

Altogether about two dozen states are expected to severely restrict or outright ban and criminalize abortions, forcing women to travel long distances to states that still permit the procedure.

Protesters marched in New York, Boston and elsewhere as anger over the decision grew.

Criticism of the move came from abroad, including from US allies like Britain, whose Prime Minister Boris Johnson called it "a big step backwards."

Canada’s Justin Trudeau said it was "horrific," and French President Emmanuel Macron voiced his "solidarity with women whose freedoms are today challenged."

- ‘Egregiously wrong’ -

In the majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito said Roe v. Wade was "egregiously wrong."

"Abortion presents a profound moral issue on which Americans hold sharply conflicting views," he said. "The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion."

The court tossed out the legal argument in Roe v. Wade that women had the right to abortion based on the constitutional right to privacy with regard to their own bodies.

While the ruling represents a victory in the struggle against abortion by the religious right, leaders of the largely Christian conservative movement said it does not go far enough and they will push for a nationwide ban.

"While it’s a major step in the right direction, overturning Roe does not end abortion," said the group March for Life.

"God made the decision," said former Republican president Donald Trump in praising the court’s ruling.

The ruling was made possible by Trump’s nomination of three conservative justices -- Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.