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Dublin: 14°C Tuesday 16 August 2022
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THE US SUPREME Court has ended the constitutional right to abortion in a landmark ruling this afternoon.

The court overturned the landmark 1973 “Roe v Wade” decision that enshrined a woman’s right to an abortion and said individual states can permit or restrict the procedure themselves.

In the ruling, published this afternoon, the court said that the US constitution did not provide the right for a woman to receive an abortion.

“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,” the court said.

That’s it for today from the liveblog, but, in case you missed it, you can read more in-depth coverage of today’s events here and a rundown of what the decision means here.

We’ll continue our coverage of the fallout of the Supreme Court’s decision tomorrow.

Across the US, both pro-life and pro-choice protesters are responding to the decision on the streets.

supreme-court-abortion-utah A woman protests the Supreme Court's decision at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City Source: Rick Bowmer

supreme-court-abortion-oklahoma A man stands in fromt of the Tulsa Women's Clinic with a sign celebrating the overturning of Roe v Wade in Tulsa, Oklahoma Source: Mike Simons, Tulsa World

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says that there is a “myth” that “this is somehow about babies, or children or life.”

“The same individuals who claim to be protecting life, fight against universal healthcare.”

“A party and individuals that claim who claim to protect the lives of children just weeks after over a dozen children died in Texas, now claim to support their life.”

Aontú leader Peadar Toibin has said that “today is a wonderful day for human rights and democracy”.

“Right now in Ireland women, are forced to give birth homeless, but the government will guarantee mothers the price of an abortion … We need as a society to give mothers real and positive choices.”

Before founding Aontú, Toibin resigned from Sinn Féin on the grounds that he felt marginalised by the party for his anti-abortion views.

Two Senators have suggested that Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch were dishonest about their views on Roe v Wade when being confirmed by the Senate.

Susan Collins, a Republican Senator representing Maine, said in a statement: “This decision is inconsistent with what Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh said in their testimony and their meetings with me, where they both were insistent on the importance of supporting long-standing precedents that the country has relied upon.”

Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia said: “I trusted Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh when they testified under oath that they also believed Roe v. Wade was settled legal precedent and I am alarmed they chose to reject the stability the ruling has provided for two generations of Americans.”

Kavanaugh said at his confirmation hearing in 2018 that the Roe ruling “is important precedent of the Supreme Court that has been reaffirmed many times.”

Gorsuch, at his 2017 hearing, said of Roe that “a good judge will consider it as precedent of the U.S. Supreme Court.”

US Attorney General Merrick Garland has that the US Food and Drug Administration had already ruled on the “safety and efficacy,” of the abortion pill Mifepristone, and that decision could not be overturned by states seeking to limit access to abortion.

“Women who reside in states that have banned access to comprehensive reproductive care must remain free to seek that care in states where it is legal.”

He said that while he understood that travelling for a termination was not always possible, the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act “prohibits anyone from obstructing access to reproductive health services through violence, threats of violence, or property damage.

“Moreover, under fundamental First Amendment principles, individuals must remain free to inform and counsel each other about the reproductive care that is available in other states.”

West Cork TD Holly Cairns of the Social Democrats: “The news breaking in the US is a stark reminder that the fight for reproductive rights is never over.”

Several states have moved quickly to ban abortion, with Missouri’s attorney general tweeting a photo of himself signing off on the prohibition less than two hours after the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to the procedure.

The Midwestern conservative state became the first US state to ban abortion, but it will not be the last, with South Dakota and Indiana also announcing that they will take steps to do so and abortion providers in Wisconsin saying the procedure was now banned there.

Nearly half are expected to ban terminations in some form, with 13 states – mainly in the more conservative and religious south – relying on so-called “trigger” laws which come into force virtually automatically.

A number of world leaders have condemned the Supreme Court’s decision.

Alongside Boris Johnson and Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron has expressed solidarity with American women. He tweeted: “They must be protected. I express my solidarity with women whose freedoms are today challenged by the Supreme Court of the United States of America.”

Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, said the overturning of Roe v Wade marks “one of the darkest days for women’s rights.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:

“The news coming out of the United States is horrific. My heart goes out to the millions of American women who are now set to lose their legal right to an abortion. I can’t imagine the fear and anger you are feeling right now.”

Oklahoma has enacted a “trigger law” to outlaw abortions.

Former president Donald Trump has said “God made the decision” to overturn Roe v Wade.

He told Fox News: “This is following the constitution, and giving rights back when they should have been given long ago.”

Trump appointed three Supreme Court nominees in his term – all of them voted to overturn Roe today.

Pro-choice politicians and advocates are pointing out that opinion polls suggest that a majority of Americans favour some form of access to abortion.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted last month found that about 71% of Americans – including majorities of Democrats and Republicans – say decisions about terminating a pregnancy should be left to a woman and her doctor.

But that support is not absolute: some 26% of respondents polled said abortion should be legal in all cases, while 10% said it should be illegal in all cases.

A number of Irish politicians will join protests at the US Embassy this weekend.

Labour leader Ivana Bacik, Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Brid Smith and former Socialist TD Ruth Coppinger have all said they will join the protests.

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham says Roe v Wade was “constitutionally unsound” from the beginning.

He’s one of a number of Republican senators to make similar assertions.

A number of major US corporations have said they will cover travel expenses for employees who have to travel for abortions.

Disney, Netflix, Sony and Comcas and a number of others have made the pledge, which, according to the Washington Post, highlights “corporate America’s unusual role in safeguarding reproductive rights “.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he thinks the decision is “a big step backwards”.

“I’ve always believed in a woman’s right to choose.”

Senator Joe Manchin – the only Democrat to oppose a failed attempted to codify Roe v Wade into law – has said he is ‘deeply disappointed’ with the decision.

The West Virginia Senator said he understood Roe ‘to be settled precedent’.

Former Vice President Mike Pence has called for a nationwide ban on abortion in the US.

In an interview with Breitbart News, Pence said “the Supreme Court has righted an historic wrong”.

Pence is considered a contender for the 2024 presidential race.

Texas lawmakers have acted quickly on the ruling – the state’s attorney general says terminations are now banned.

Moreover, he says he’s making 24 June an annual holiday in his office.

Biden: “With this decision, the conservative majority of the Supreme Court shows how extreme it is how far removed they are from the majority of this country.”

He concludes with an appeal for pro-choice Americans to act at the ballot box: “With your vote, you can act.”

Biden: “I’ve warned about how this decision risks the broader right to privacy for everyone.”

He says that Justice Thomas wrote, in a concurring opinion, that the Supreme Court should reconsider the rulings that protect contraception, same-sex relationships, and same-sex marriage.

He adds that the decision will set the agenda for November’s mid-term elections. “Roe is on the ballot.”

Biden says that the only way to secure abortion rights “is for Congress to restore the protections of Roe v Wade as federal law – no executive action from the president can do that.”

“It just stuns me … imagine a young woman having to carry a child of incest.

“And as is often the case, poor women are going to be hit the hardest.”

Abortion rights have been “the law of the land for most of the lifetime of Americans today.”

He points out that Roe vs Wade was a 7-2 decision from the Supreme Court under a Republican president, Richard Nixon.

Three justices appointed by Donald Trump “were the core of today’s decision to abandon scales of justice”.

Roe “reaffirmed basic principles of equality”, Biden says.

“Now, with Roe gone, let’s be very clear: the health and life of women in this nation are now at risk.”

US President Joe Biden has said “it’s a sad day for the court and for the country”.

Brooklyn Democrat Congressman Jerry Nadler notes that the US Supreme Court yesterday ruled that states were wrong to outlaw people publicly carrying firearms whereas today it gives them the freedom to ban abortion. 

Senator Bernie Sanders also saying that today’s decision needs to spark changes in Congress. 

He also references the fact that nationwide polling in the US regularly showed support for the retention of the Roe v. Wade decision. 

US Attorney General Merrick Garland has released a statement on the decision. 

Garland had been a 2016 Supreme Court nominee under Barack Obama but was denied a confirmation vote by the Republican-controlled Senate. 

Garland said: 

The Justice Department will use every tool at its disposal to protect reproductive freedom, and federal agencies may continue to provide reproductive health services to the extent authorised by federal law

US-based Irish reporter Niall Stanage has pointed out that all the major US networks have used the same six words to report today’s historic decision. 

My colleague Tadgh McNally has written an immediate explainer on the effects that are likely to flow from today’s decision by the US Supreme Court. 

He writes that as many as 24 states will now try and completely ban abortions.

There are several states that do have built-in protections for abortion rights and that will likely continue to offer abortions.

For women living in states who will or have banned abortion, they will either be forced to travel to another state that offers abortion services or to order abortion pills from outside their state.

This is likely to cause a drop in abortions overall. Pro-choice campaigners argue that many of the women who get abortions are more likely to be poor, and have pointed out that long distance travel can be extremely costly in the US.

supreme-court-abortion Source: PA Images/Jacquelyn Martin

Hundreds of people — some shedding tears of joy and others weeping with grief — gathered outside the fenced-off Supreme Court, where security was tightened ahead of the ruling.

“It’s hard to imagine living in a country that does not respect women as human beings and their right to control their bodies,” said Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat, 49, a mother of two daughters who was choking back tears.

But Gwen Charles, a 21-year-old opponent of abortion, was jubilant.

“This is the day that we have been waiting for,” she told AFP. “We get to usher in a new culture of life in the United States.”

Planned Parenthood, the leading abortion provider in the United States, vowed following the ruling to “never stop fighting” for those in need.

“We know you may be feeling a lot of things right now — hurt, anger, confusion. Whatever you feel is OK. We’re here with you — and we’ll never stop fighting for you,” the organization tweeted.

One of the major arguments from pro-choice activists in Ireland during the Eighth Amendment referendum was that Ireland’s former constitutional ban on abortion did not stop them taking place but only prevented them taking place here. 

A similar argument here today from Democrat congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

President Joe Biden has not spoken publicly about the decision but will speak in about an hour at 5.30pm Irish-time. 

Virginia is not one of the states with  so-called “trigger laws” that will kick in to give effect to today’s decision but the state’s Republican governor has suggested that new legislation to ban abortion may be enacted there too. 

There was a 6 v 3 split in the decision, with the six Chief Justices nominated by Republican presidents in favour of today’s decision and the three nominated by Democrats dissenting. 

Justice Alito issued the final opinion today, writing that Roe and Planned Parenthood v Casey, the 1992 decision that reaffirmed the right to abortion, was wrong the day it was decided and must be overturned.

Authority to regulate abortion rests with the political branches, not the courts, Justice Alito wrote.

Joining him were Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. The latter three justices are Trump appointees. Justice Thomas first voted to overrule Roe 30 years ago.

Chief Justice John Roberts would have stopped short of ending the abortion right, noting that he would have upheld the Mississippi law at the heart of the case, a ban on abortion after 15 weeks, and said no more.

Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — the diminished liberal wing of the court — were in dissent.

Among progressives in the US, there are fears that today’s decision could be a harbinger of things to come from the Supreme Court. 

In today’s ruling, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has referenced a number of other decisions that could be considered. 

Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi has said that today’s decision could set the agenda for the midterm elections in November.

“Because of Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, the Republican Party and their supermajority on the Supreme Court, American women today have less freedom than their mothers,” she said. 

Radical Republicans are charging ahead with their crusade to criminalise health freedom in the Congress. Be aware of this, the Republicans are plotting a nationwide abortion ban. They cannot be allowed to have a majority in the Congress to do that. But that’s their goal.

Last month, Politico received a draft decision that indicated that the landmark Roe v. Wade would be overturned by the court.

Today’s decision is therefore a confirmation of what was expected but that didn’t stop a huge reaction from both sides outside the court. 

US networks are streaming live from outside the steps of the Supreme Court which have been blocked by police for some time. 

Source: Washington Post/YouTube

Immediate reaction has been coming from high office in the US, both current and past.

Former President Barack Obama

“For more than a month, we’ve known this day was coming—but that doesn’t make it any less devastating. Here are my thoughts from when we first saw the draft ruling.”

Republican leader in House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy

“In the days that follow, we must keep rejecting extreme policies that seek to allow late-term abortions and taxpayer dollars to fund these elective procedures.

Much work remains to protect the most vulnerable among us.”

Just to give you a sense of the immediate effect of today’s decision, 13 states with so-called “trigger laws” have automatically banned abortions.

These states are: Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

Good afternoon, Rónán Duffy here to bring you the reaction to the historic decision by the US Supreme Court this afternoon. 

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Tadgh McNally

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