The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, holding that there is no longer a federal constitutional right to an abortion. Read the transcript here.
The Supreme Court has just issued, and this is the decision many we’re waiting for are ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. This is the major case regarding abortion rights in this country, Jeffrey Toobin, and still with us here as we wait to read this decision. Jeffrey put into context how consequential this is.
Jeffrey Toobin: (00:20)
Psychologists have a term called flash bulb memory, which is you remember where you are when something happened, the big deal, 9/11, Kennedy assassination. Today is the moment right now, when we are going to learn the fate of constitutional abortion rights in America. In 1973 the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade and said a woman’s right to choose abortion was up to her until viability on the part of the fetus. They reaffirmed that many times, including in 1992 in a case that year. And now the Dobbs case involving a statute out of Mississippi is a case about whether abortion rights will continue under the United States Constitution. This is a especially bizarre scenario in Supreme Court history because a draft opinion in this case was leaked about six weeks ago, where Roe v. Wade was overturned and what we are going to find out momentarily is whether that draft opinion resembles the court’s opinion, which has now been released. It’s a very historic and important moment.
So, Jeffrey standby. Want to get straight to our Jessica Schneider, who is outside of the court with more. Jessica, what is the opinion of the court
Jessica Schneider: (01:54)
Poppy and Jim, the court issuing that landmark ruling that this nation has been bracing for, and the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade. That they have eliminated the constitutional right to an abortion. And at first glance, this opinion is very similar to that draft opinion that we saw leak just about a month and a half ago at the beginning of May. So, what we’re seeing at first glance here is that this is a five-four decision. This is an opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito joined with those other conservatives, Justice Thomas, Gorsuch, Barrett and Kavanaugh. The Chief Justice John Roberts, not joining in the opinion but joining in the judgment, meaning that he agrees that the Mississippi 15-week abortion ban should be upheld, but not agreeing with this sweeping proclamation that Roe v. Wade is overturned. We are looking into this opinion, but you know, this will have immediate effects here.
Jessica Schneider: (02:49)
By all estimates, about half of the states are expected to eliminate the right to abortion. We’ve got about a half dozen states that have so-called trigger laws that their abortion bans will go into effect either immediately or within the next 30 days or the next few months. And then we have about a dozen states with so-called zombie laws. Those were actually abortion laws that were on the books before Roe v. Wade in 1973, that will then go back into effect.
Jessica Schneider: (03:16)
On the flip side, there are about 16 states in Washington, DC that have sort of amped up their abortion protection. So they’re expecting potentially to see an influx of patients coming into their states to actually get abortions for people who are living in states that will soon not be able to get abortions. So this is in fact a landmark ruling here. This is overturning nearly 50 years of precedent that was first established in Roe v. Wade, and then affirmed in Casey, the Casey decision in 1992. Those opinions, and for 50 years, there has been a constitutional right to an abortion from this Supreme Court. Women have been able to get abortions, the state has not been able to restrict abortions up to the point of viability about 23 to 24 weeks. But now this court is upending the past 50 years of history.
Jessica Schneider: (04:07)
Again, this looks very similar to that draft decision, again, written by Justice Samuel Alito. In the draft decision, he said that Roe v. Wade was egregiously wrong. So, we’re going to go through this opinion, and look at how it compares. But, if it is similar, which it appears to be, he’ll talk about how there’s really no historical precedent for the Supreme Court upholding the right to an abortion and that this should really be left to the states. This is what this opinion will do. It will say that the constitution does not guarantee the right to abortion and it’s left to the individual states.
Jessica Schneider: (04:40)
One last thing, guys, Justice Alito had said in that draft opinion and probably says it in this one as well, that this is just too divisive of an issue to kind of glean from the constitution when it isn’t specific about abortion and about the right to an abortion. This is something that needs to be decided by individual states where people have the power to vote for their elected representatives. And the court hears saying that power should be returned to the states, it will be returned to the states now that the court has overturned Roe v. Wade.