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Women's right protest
Photography Manny Becerra

Roe V Wade has officially been overturned by the Supreme Court

It’s expected that 26 states will immediately restrict or completely ban abortions

In a heartbreaking turn of events, the US Supreme Court has voted to overturn Roe v Wade, the constitutional right to choose abortion which has existed for almost 50 years. The news will affect the lives of tens of millions of women, as the power to decide will now be handed to the 50 states to determine individually.

The 5-4 ruling marks the most significant curtailing of an established constitutional right in the court’s history. It will effectively strip American women of their rights to safe abortion and will pave the way for half the country to severely restrict or completely ban the practice. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organisation seeking to advance reproductive health rights, 26 states are “certain or likely” to ban abortion in the absence of Roe.

The 79-page decision, written by Justice Samuel Alito, stated that “The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled, and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives... It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people's elected representatives.”

“Abortion presents a profound moral question,” the ruling continues. “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.”

Amnesty International called the ruling a “grim milestone” in the history of the United States. “Millions of people now face a future where they will not be able to make deeply personal choices that affect their bodies, their future and the wellbeing of their families,“ said Tarah Demant, interim national director for Programs, Advocacy and Government Affairs at Amnesty International.

“This ruling affects each and every person in the United States, regardless of their ability to become pregnant. You know someone who has had an abortion. We all do, as approximately one in four women in the United States will seek an abortion in their lifetime,” she added.

“People will be forced to give birth. They’ll be forced to seek unsafe abortions. This is the outcome of a decades-long campaign to control people’s bodies. The ruling paves the way for unprecedented state legislation to criminalise abortion, as well as other bills that will aim to strip human rights from people in the United States – including the potential for bills that will affect access to birth control, gender and marriage equality, as well as other anti-discrimination laws.”