The United States Supreme Court has overturned the decades-old precedent set by Roe v. Wade and has ruled that there is no constitutional right to an abortion.
In a sweeping ruling written by Justice Samuel Alito, the court declared in a 6-to-3 vote that the original decision that established reproductive rights for women in the United States was wrongly decided.
"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," Alito wrote.
Anticipating a reversal, lawmakers in 13 Republican-ruled states have already adopted so-called "trigger" laws that would ban abortion if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.
More than 60 percent of Americans believe abortion should remain legal in all or most cases, a figure that has remained relatively stable for the past few years, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.
But there are enormous differences based on political persuasion: 80 percent of Democrats believe abortion should remain legal in all or most cases while just 35 percent of Republicans do.
And the divide is widening. Those figures were 72 percent and 39 percent, respectively, in 2016.
“We do not pretend to know how our political system or society will respond to today’s decision overruling Roe and Casey,” Alito wrote in the ruling. ”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 decide this case accordingly”
Religious conviction also plays a large role. Seventy-seven percent of white evangelicals believe abortion should be illegal in most cases.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Republican Donald Trump managed to attract many voters on the religious right with his promise to name justices to the Supreme Court who shared their values and would notably be prepared to strike down Roe v. Wade.
During his four years in the White House, Trump nominated three justices to the court, giving conservatives a solid 6-3 majority.
Their arrival spurred Republican state lawmakers to pass increasingly restrictive abortion laws, several of which eventually made their way to the nation's highest court.
With additional reporting by AFP
Watch Nancy Pelosi's response to the SCOTUS ruling:
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