politics

Roe v. Wade was overturned two weeks ago. Here’s what's happened since.

Two weeks ago, the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that recognised a woman's constitutional right to an abortion and legalised it across the country, handing a momentous victory to pro-life advocates who want to limit or ban the procedure.

The court, in a 6-3 ruling powered by its conservative majority, upheld a Republican-backed Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks.

The vote was 5-4 to overturn Roe, with Chief Justice John Roberts writing separately to say he would have upheld the Mississippi law but not taken the additional step of erasing the precedent altogether.

The justices held that the Roe v. Wade decision that allowed abortions performed before a fetus would be viable outside the womb - between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy - was wrongly decided because the US constitution makes no specific mention of abortion rights.

How did the United States get here?

A draft version of the ruling written by conservative Justice Samuel Alito indicating the court was likely to overturn Roe was leaked in May, igniting a political firestorm.

The ruling authored by Alito largely tracked his leaked draft.

"The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision," Alito wrote in the ruling.

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Roe v. Wade recognised that the right to personal privacy under the US Constitution protects a woman's ability to terminate her pregnancy. 

The Supreme Court in a 1992 ruling called Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey reaffirmed abortion rights and prohibited laws imposing an "undue burden" on abortion access.

"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 inflamed debate and deepened division," Alito added.

By erasing abortion as a constitutional right, the ruling restores the ability of states to pass laws prohibiting it. 

What has happened since Roe v. Wade was overturned?

Already, ten states have legislated to ban abortion in all circumstances, including rape and incest. 

An additional four states are likely to adopt the ban soon, while the ban was blocked in three states.

There is restricted abortion access to five states, and two more are expected imminently.

Meanwhile, abortion is likely to remain legal in Democrat-led states. 

Interests in vasectomies have skyrocketed since the overturning of Roe v. Wade. On the day and days following the Supreme court's announcement, google search queries for "vasectomy cost", "get a vasectomy" and "vasectomy near me" spiked.

Doctors have reported the same trend with a heightened number of people expressing their interest in getting a vasectomy.

Earlier today, President Joe Biden signed an executive order that aims to protect women's access to abortion.

It will apply to states where the procedure remains legal by heading off some potential penalties that women seeking abortion may face, but his order will not restore access to abortion in the states where total bans have gone into effect.

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How have Americans responded to the overturning of Roe v. Wade?

US President Joe Biden criticised the ruling at the time, saying the health and life of women was now at risk.

"It's a sad day for the court and for the country," Biden said in a White House address after the ruling, which he said was taking the country back 150 years.

Biden promised to go on fighting for reproductive rights but said no executive order can guarantee a woman's right to choose.

He urged voters to send lawmakers to Congress who will work to codify abortion rights as the law of the land.

Biden made a point of calling for any protests to remain peaceful. 

"No intimidation. Violence is never acceptable," he said.

Many high-profile politicians and figures have shared their dismay with the ruling.

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Thousands of people rallied for abortion rights in Washington DC and other cities after the leak in May, including some protesters at the homes of some conservative justices. 

A California man armed with a handgun, ammunition, a crow bar and pepper spray was arrested near Justice Brett Kavanaugh's Maryland home on June 8 and charged with attempted murder.

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The number of US abortions increased by 8 per cent during the three years ending in 2020, reversing a 30-year trend of declining numbers, according to data released on June 15 by the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.

The US abortion rate peaked in 1980, seven years after the Roe ruling, at 29.3 abortions per 1000 women of child-bearing age - 15-44 - and stood at 13.5 per 1000 in 2017 before increasing to 14.4 per 1000 women by 2020.

How are world leaders responding to the overturning of Roe v. Wade?

As news spreads across the globe, world politicians are expressed their thoughts on the historic overturning.

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Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese is yet to make a statement. 

- With AAP

Feature Image: AAP/Getty.