What a historic day!
We at Family Watch International are profoundly grateful to the five U.S. Supreme Court justices who bravely ignored extreme pressure from radical groups and did the right thing.
Friday, as you likely already know, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5 to 4 to overturn Roe v. Wade! It should be noted that Chief Justice Roberts did not actually vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. However, he did vote to uphold the Mississippi law which banned abortion after 15 weeks gestation. (See Q & A we have provided for you below for more details.)
To say we at Family Watch are elated would be a gross understatement.
NO CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO ABORTION
The 1973 Roe v. Wade Court decision unilaterally created a “constitutional right” to abortion out of thin air, with no sound basis within the U.S. Constitution. That infamous Roe decision has had catastrophic consequences that have reverberated worldwide. It has also effectively caused a severance of sex from reproduction, marriage, parenthood and family. Moreover, the 1973 Roe decision exacerbated the sexual revolution, with radical feminists claiming a right to kill their unborn child for any reason so they could have sex without commitment or consequence.
Or so they thought.
Many women worldwide have suffered greatly from having an abortion with some even having trouble bonding with subsequent children and others finding they cannot have other children because of a botched abortion.
Indeed, abortion is not a human right, nor a woman’s right. It has been and will always be a human wrong that hurts both mother and child and carries with it major negative impacts on the institution of the family.
FAMILY WATCH AFRICA WORKING TO STOP ABORTION BEING PUSHED ABROAD
Our Family Watch Africa team, right now, is working in the Southern region of Africa to stop a regional “Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights” agreement (pushed by Western donor countries) that would mandate government-funded abortion and comprehensive sexuality education, among other things.
What the U.S. does has an effect on many countries, so this U.S. Supreme Court decision which struck down the right to abortion has already empowered and given energy for those in Africa working to defend life.
Family Watch International is full of hope that Friday’s decision will be a turning point in restoring respect for life and the value of children and families—not only in the United States, but around the world.
Sharon Slater, on behalf of our entire Family Watch team
QUESTION — What did the U.S. Supreme Court decide about abortion on June 24, 2022?
ANSWER — The Court voted to overturn its previous rulings which had said that the U.S. Constitution protects a “right” to abortion.
QUESTION — Does this mean that abortion is now illegal in the United States?
ANSWER — No. It means that each of the fifty states is now free to adopt its own policy regarding abortion through the normal democratic and legislative process, without interference from the federal courts.
QUESTION — People are saying this new Supreme Court decision takes away all women’s rights. Is that true?
ANSWER — Wrong. The only thing the Court’s ruling did was allow states to regulate abortion instead of the federal government.
QUESTION — What were the cases that were overturned?
ANSWER — Roe v. Wade (Roe for short) was a ruling handed down in 1973. It was the first case in which the Supreme Court declared that abortion was a constitutional right. Planned Parenthood v. Casey (Casey) was a 1992 decision. In it, the Court changed some of its standards for evaluating state laws on abortion. However, it re-affirmed the central holding of Roe that there is a constitutional right to abortion. Both Roe and Casey were overturned by the Supreme Court’s recent decision.
QUESTION — What was the case before the Court that led to this ruling?
ANSWER — The ruling came in a case called Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (Dobbs).
QUESTION — What was the Dobbs case about?
ANSWER — Several states with pro-life legislatures have passed laws in recent years challenging Roe and Casey. Both Roe and Casey had said that states could not prohibit abortions before “viability”—the point in pregnancy when the unborn child could survive outside the womb. (The court in Roe estimated that the unborn child is “viable”—able to live outside the womb—after 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy.) The state of Mississippi passed a law to prohibit abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy—well before “viability.” An abortion clinic sued the state, seeking to have courts overturn the law. Lower federal courts ruled against the state of Mississippi, saying that the law was unconstitutional under the Roe and Casey decisions. The Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal of these rulings. In the end, the Supreme Court overruled the lower courts, upheld the Mississippi law, and overturned the Roe and Casey decisions.
QUESTION — Why is there confusion about the vote count of the justices on the Dobbs decision?
ANSWER — There are nine justices who sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, so the votes of a majority (five) are required for a decision. Some media outlets have reported that the decision was 6-3, while others have reported that it was 5-4. The confusion comes because the decision was effectively 5-1-3. A majority of five justices joined the opinion of the court (written by Justice Samuel Alito). They decided both to uphold the Mississippi law and to overturn Roe and Casey completely. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote a separate opinion, but no other justices joined the position he took. Roberts said that the Court should only decide the immediate case before them. He said the Mississippi law should be upheld as constitutional—thus doing away with the “viability” standard under Roe and Casey. However, Roberts argued that it was not necessary to overturn Roe and Casey’s core holding that there is a constitutional right to abortion, at least in early stages of pregnancy. In other words, Chief Justice Roberts “concurred in the judgment” (that the Mississippi law should be upheld), but he did not agree with the ruling that Roe and Casey should be overturned in this case.
To put it another way—six justices voted to uphold the Mississippi law banning abortions after fifteen weeks of pregnancy. Five of those six justices went further, declaring that the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee any right to abortion at all (at any stage of pregnancy). The remaining three justices (Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan) dissented. They argued that the right to abortion created by Roe and Casey should be upheld and that the Mississippi law should be struck down as unconstitutional.
QUESTION — What does overturning Roe V. Wade do?
ANSWER — The decision will NOT make abortion illegal throughout the United States. The decision does return full authority to determine abortion policy back to each of the fifty states.
QUESTION — What will happen in the states now?
ANSWER — The decision is likely to create a patchwork of different abortion laws across the United States. Some states still have bans or restrictions on abortion on the books that were adopted before the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. Although the states could not enforce those laws under Roe v. Wade, they could begin to enforce them again now that Roe has been overturned. Other states have enacted so-called “trigger laws,” imposing bans or restrictions on abortion that would only take effect if and when Roe v. Wade was overturned. (Writing laws in this way prevented them from being challenged in court.) Those laws can now take effect. Other states have passed more recent laws restricting abortion which have not been enforced because of court orders. Those laws, too, could now take effect.
Some states with pro-life legislatures have passed only limited restrictions in the past (such as Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban that was upheld by the Court). They may choose to adopt even more restrictive laws now that the Supreme Court has said there is no constitutional right to abortion. On the other hand, more liberal states may choose to adopt policies protecting a “right” to abortion under state law or their state constitution.