A nearly 50-year-old constitutional right to choose abortion has been overturned by the US Supreme Court, opening the door for the practise to be outlawed or severely restricted in half of the country.
Now, the 50 states will be given the authority to decide on the abortion rights for tens of millions of women.
It is one of the Supreme Court’s most important decisions in recent memory, making it the highest court in the United States.
The court decided to overrule the historic “Roe versus Wade” decision from 1973, which legalised abortion up until the period of viability for the foetus, commonly regarded as being around 24 weeks into pregnancy.
The new decision gave Republicans and Christian conservatives who want to restrict or outlaw the surgery a significant triumph, but it also put the court at odds with the majority of Americans who, according to polls, supported upholding Roe.
Pro-life and pro-choice activists had congregated outside the court in Washington, DC, in anticipation of the news, so there were equal parts joyful and depressing scenes when it was made public.
The availability of abortion will be prohibited in many situations, including, in some cases, if conception was the consequence of rape or incest, in at least 25 states where new legislation or dormant laws are about to be introduced.
The southern region of the nation is home to many of those states. Three of the 13 states—Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi—have “trigger bans” in effect, which prohibit abortion either immediately or during the next few days and weeks.
Many observers of the Supreme Court think the decision was made because there are now six conservative judges on the court, including three who were chosen by previous president Donald Trump, outnumbering their three more liberal colleagues.
Polling has revealed that the majority of Americans opposed overturning Roe, despite the fact that abortion is one of the most controversial topics in the country.
In a survey conducted earlier this month, the analytics firm Gallup discovered that 55% of Americans consider themselves to be “pro-choice.”