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US Supreme Court Overrules Roe vs Wade

US Supreme Court Overrules Roe vs Wade

As expected, the US Supreme Court overruled the 1973 Roe vs Wade decision. The 6-3 ruling was announced on Friday 24 June.  Rather than completely banning abortion in the US, the ruling puts the responsibility for abortion legislation on the fifty state legislatures.  Prior to Roe vs Wade, abortion on request was legal in four states and outright banned in thirty.  

The Alan Guttmacher Institute, an arm of Planned Parenthood, said as a result of Friday’s ruling, that it expected abortion to be banned in twenty-six states.  Thirteen had “trigger” laws that went into effect if Roe vs Wade was overturned. Abortion is now illegal in each of them.

Long viewed as the prima facie case of un-constitutional judicial legislation, overturning Roe vs Wade was a plank in the election platform of Donald Trump.  The three judges nominated by Trump to fill vacancies on the Supreme Court (Kavanaugh, Barrett, and Gorsuch) were key to the ruling.  All three, joined by Thomas, Roberts, and Alito take a strict constructionist view of the constitution and believed it was a matter for the state legislatures.

Former Justice, Ruth Bader-Ginsburg, a noted liberal feminist, angered many supporters of abortion when she said in a 1992 lecture at New York University, “Measured motions seem to me right, in the main, for constitutional as well as common law adjudication. Doctrinal limbs too swiftly shaped, experience teaches, may prove unstable. The most prominent example in recent decades is Roe v. Wade.”

Ginsburg’s judicial misgivings were shared also by conservatives.  In writing the majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito was clear when he wrote;

“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences.

“And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.”

Voters in the US have long had clear lines drawn politically over abortion.  Elected Democrats are in lock-step support of the practice whilst most Republicans are against it.  Rep. Nancy Pelosi, (D-San Francisco) Speaker of the House of Representatives is an ardent advocate for abortion—and a self-professed practicing Roman Catholic—was recently barred from taking communion by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco because of her outspoken advocacy.

The Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, the Most Revd Foley Beach commented on the decision by saying, 

“While this decision doesn’t end abortion in the US, it will lead to fewer children being killed through abortion. We thank God for this limited victory, and the Anglican Church in North America recommits itself to serving mothers so they can embrace motherhood and welcome their children. We also continue to point the way to God’s healing and forgiveness for all who suffer physically and emotionally from their abortion experiences.”

Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church USA said that he was “deeply grieved” by the court’s decision.  TEC has long been in the ecclesiastical forefront in support of abortion.