5. What did the Court rule in June?
The Supreme Court overturned Roe and Casey in a historic 6-3 decision released Friday that brought a sudden and dramatic end to nearly a half-century of nationwide legalized abortion in the U.S.
"Abortion presents a profound moral question. The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority," the opinion states. "We now overrule these decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives."
The decision does not ban or criminalize abortion, nor does it recognize an unborn child's constitutional right to life. But in one stroke, the court’s action sweeps away entrenched legal barriers, created and strictly enforced by the federal judiciary, that for decades have blocked states like Mississippi from heavily restricting or prohibiting the killing of unborn children in the womb.
The ruling marks a watershed moment for the Catholic Church and the wider pro-life movement in the United States, which have painstakingly sought Roe’s reversal since the landmark 7-2 decision was handed down on Jan. 19, 1973.
6. What happens now?
In more than a dozen states, abortion is now completely illegal, with a few exceptions, while several other states in the country have passed laws to protect abortion within their borders.
Abortion has the potential to be a major issue in the November elections in the U.S., but early polling suggests economic problems such as inflation may play more of a role.
There have already been attempts in the Senate to pass a codification of Roe v. Wade into federal law, but so far these have failed, with Democrat Joe Manchin joining all the senate Republicans in opposition. Political observers have speculated that even if Democrats abolished the filibuster rule — which requires 60 votes to break a filibuster from the minority — they may still not have enough votes to pass a codification of Roe v. Wade.
Plus, there is a chance that, in light of the Dobbs ruling, the Supreme Court could strike down a federal law attempting to codify abortion rights.
Part of a continuing series examining the U.S. Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a direct challenge to the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion throughout the United States. This story has been updated since its original publication on Nov. 30, 2021.
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