The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday overturned the nearly 50-year-old Roe v. Wade decision allowing abortion on demand across the country.
In a 6-3 decision, the court’s conservative justices fully returned abortion to individual states for the first time since 1973.
“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority. “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.”
Two decades after Roe, the Supreme Court upheld and strengthened it in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Alito criticized both in his 66-page opinion that upheld Mississippi’s law limiting abortions at 15 weeks gestational age.
“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,” Alito wrote.
According to reports, as many as half all U.S. states are expected to outlaw or severely restrict abortion following Friday’s decision.
“Abortion presents a profound moral question,” Alito wrote. “The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives.”
The reversal comes after Alito’s draft opinion was leaked to the public in early May, sparking strong reactions from those on both sides of the abortion issue. Following threats to justices, Congress passed legislation to beef up their security.
The court acknowledged potential turmoil from its decision, but said such matters are not relevant when evaluating the law.
“We do not pretend to know how our political system or society will respond to today’s decision overruling Roe and Casey,” Alito wrote. “And even if we could foresee what will happen, we would have no authority to let that knowledge influence our decision. We can only do our job, which is to interpret the law, apply longstanding principles of stare decisis, and de- cide this case accordingly.”
In April, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed HB 5 banning the majority of abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, which will take effect on July 1.
Below is a compilation of local and state officials commenting on Friday’s landmark ruling:
Gainesville City Commissioner David Arreola on Twitter
“People have a right to choose if & when they give birth. Now it must become law”
U.S. Rep. Kat Cammack
“The monumental news in Dobbs v. Jackson is historic. Since the founding of our nation, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness have been key tenets in the United States, and today’s news has solidified our most basic right—the right to life. For the most vulnerable among us, this decision affirms the undeniable value of life and the protection and respect for all unborn children. This is a historic day. Life wins!”
U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn
“The U.S. Supreme Court made the right decision today in protecting the right to life. Every life is precious, and the lives of the most vulnerable must be protected.
“After facing the wrath of the Radical Left for the past few months, I recognize that this was not an easy decision; however, the justices upheld their Constitutional duty and gave the power back to the states, as it should be. This ruling is a win for states’ rights and babies nationwide.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
“The prayers of millions have been answered. For nearly fifty years, the U.S. Supreme Court has prohibited virtually any meaningful pro-life protection, but this was not grounded in the text, history or structure of the Constitution. By properly interpreting the Constitution, the Dobbs majority has restored the people’s role in our republic and a sense of hope that every life counts.
“Florida will continue to defend its recently-enacted pro-life reforms against state court challenges, will work to expand pro-life protections, and will stand for life by promoting adoption, foster care and child welfare.”
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried
“This is a sad day in American history. The Supreme Court has revoked women’s healthcare. They have revoked a woman’s right to choose.
“This despicable ruling is not reflective of a healthy democracy. It is not based on thoughtful legal precedent. It is based on the conservative politics and dogmatic religious beliefs of a handful of people on the Supreme Court.
“To those who, like me, are more than just disappointed today, please understand this: they will not stop at overturning Roe. Mississippi and Idaho are already talking openly and publicly about banning contraceptives. Texas is willing to test putting public education on the chopping block. And gay marriage is likely next. The legal atrocity does not stop with women’s reproductive freedom.
“If you are angry, stay angry. Stay angry at those like Ron DeSantis, who are celebrating today. Stay angry at lifelong politicians like Charlie Crist, who still describe themselves as ‘pro-life.’ Stay mad at leaders who won’t stand up for you.”
State Rep. Yvonne Hinson on Twitter
“This goes beyond abortion. This wrong ruling is about who has power over you, who makes decisions for you, and who can control your destiny. Our rights are no longer safe.
80% of Americans believe abortion should be legal. 36 million women will lose access.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio
“Today’s decision by the Supreme Court to allow states to regulate abortion was right constitutionally and morally.
“For nearly half a century, a nation founded on God-given rights denied those rights to its most vulnerable citizens and more than 63 million Americans never got the chance to pursue their dreams.
“But we must not only continue to take steps to protect the unborn, we must also do more to support mothers and their babies. I will soon introduce a bill to ensure we do everything we can to give every child the opportunity to fully access the promise of America.”
U.S. Sen. Rick Scott
“The importance of today’s decision by the Supreme Court cannot be overstated. For nearly 50 years, our country endured flawed legal reasoning that invented an implied constitutional right to abortion while stripping authority from lawmakers according to the will of the people. Today, the Court correctly interpreted the Constitution, defended human dignity and the foundational principle of federalism, and rightly declared that there is no constitutional right to end the life of an unborn child.
“I firmly believe that life begins at conception and that every child deserves to be welcomed into this world with open and loving arms. Abortion ends a life. It is abhorrent and has no place in our society. While we celebrate the Court’s latest ruling, the fight to protect the sanctity of life is not over. Lawmakers and the pro-life movement have the responsibility to make adoption more accessible and affordable, and do everything in our power to meet the needs of struggling women and their families so they can choose life. We cannot stop fighting until every life, born and unborn, is valued.”
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly cited Justice Clarence Thomas as the author of the court’s majority opinion. Thomas wrote a concurring opinion.