Following a leak of the decision in early May, the Supreme Court announced today that by six votes to three it would overturn the fifty year-old landmark Roe v Wade ruling which allowed pregnant American women a right to choose abortion.
The 1973 case allowed absolute rights within the first three months and diminishing rights subject to state guidance in the two final periods of three months of a pregnancy, and it depended on the state whether the .
Now the three Trump-appointed members of the judiciary have helped reverse the decision with one, judge Samuel Alito, saying that Roe v Wade was “egregiously wrong”. Although the case immediately changes the law in thirteen states which have “trigger laws” others will have to alter their own legislation in accordance with the Supreme Court decision if they wish to do so.
The ending of a woman’s constitutional rights is likely to affect poorer women most, since they might have to travel for abortion, often not haven the resources to cross state lines and perhaps having to pay more. Some states are planning to include the right to abortion within their state constitution.
Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, said “A woman’s fundamental health decisions are her own to make, in consultation with her doctor and her loved ones, not to be dictated by far-right politicians.”
Mitch McConnell US Senate Republican Leader issued a statement lauding the Supreme Court ruling. He claimed this is a courageous decision for the most vulnerable in society. He said: “For 50 years, states have been unable to enact even modest protections for unborn children. More than 90% of Europe restricts abortion on demand after 15 weeks, but every state in America has been forced to allow it more than a month past that, after a baby can feel pain, yawn, stretch, and suck his or her thumb. Judicial activists declared that every state had to handle abortion like China and North Korea and no state could handle it like France or Germany.
“Not anymore. Now the American people get their voice back.”
US Senator Ted Cruz, once a Republican presidential candidate said the this decision is nothing short of a “massive victory for life”.
In Edinburgh people took to the street outside the US Consulate to show that they did not agree with the Supreme Court.
President Joe Biden has explained his disquiet, hinting that it appears likely that other freedoms such as gay marriage might be under scrutiny from the court next.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama tweeted that she is heartbroken by the news:
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand who represents New York State tweeted on Friday that any American woman living in a state where her rights are not protected should know that they are welcome in New York State where abortion remains legal.
Here First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “One of the darkest days for women’s rights in my lifetime. Obviously the immediate consequences will be suffered by women in the US – but this will embolden anti-abortion & anti-women forces in other countries too. Solidarity doesn’t feel enough right now – but it is necessary.”
All photos courtesy of Alan Simpson Photography