Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade verdict, a US Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal in all 50 states.
But the verdict did not last for the anniversary. Last June, the US Supreme Court struck down Roe v Wade in another case known as Dobbs.
This ruling ended national legalization of abortion and returned decision-making authority over abortion law to each of the 50 states. Since the ruling, more than a dozen states have imposed a ban on all or nearly all abortions, while a similar number are taking steps to severely limit abortion services beyond what was permitted by Roe v Wade.
But the other half of the states have passed laws to maintain or increase access to legal abortion.
There have also been several referendums on the subject in the last six months, but the anti-abortion side has lost in all six cases.
Roe v Wade was one of the most contentious Supreme Court decisions in US history and its repercussions are still being felt across the country half a century later, with the Dobbs ruling unleashing a new wave of energy on both sides in the abortion debate in that country.
Over the past fifty years, the issue of abortion (and related political issues of states’ rights) has become a very powerful and divisive issue in American politics. Separating Republican and Democratic voters and politicians has become a problem over time.
Roe v Wade was quashed, but the March for Life returned to Washington on Friday, a huge rally of people from all over the country who now want to see an end to abortion. It ended up in the US Supreme Court every year.
The activists who took part in the March for Life (and all those who came before them) can claim some credit for having achieved their goal in a struggle that spanned half a century. Encouraged by this success, they want to go even further, especially at the state level, and want more states to introduce bans or severe restrictions.
After the Dobbs ruling, Republican lawmakers moved to ban abortion in the state. However, the move required a referendum because the state Supreme Court ruled a previous attempt to ban abortion in 2019 illegal.
Last August’s referendum to actually ban abortion was defeated by a margin of 59% to 41% – the first sign that abortion could become a major political issue in midterm elections.
Abortion rights activists are also closely monitoring efforts in the Kansas State House to create an impeachment trial for state Supreme Court justices.
This was evident in the midterm elections last November. President Joe Biden’s dismal approval rating, high inflation, and growing dissatisfaction with Democratic majorities in the House and Senate meant that Democrats were unlikely to suffer the proverbial eyesore in the midterm elections this spring — that they would be swept away in a red wave.
But then Row v Wade was eliminated. President Biden and the Democratic Party were quick to focus on the demographics of the half-century abortion law upheaval and saw it as an issue that could steer voters on their way.
Trump’s reported concerns proved most true in the Senate race in Pennsylvania, where Democrat John Fetterman won the Republican seat in a race in which exit polls showed abortion rights were voters’ top concern.
In Michigan, a state where voters made abortion rights their primary concern, Democrats won the governorship and control of both houses of the state legislature for the first time in three decades.
Florida, the third most populous state in the United States, is particularly notable as its governor, Ron De Santis, is now seen as Donald Trump’s main rival for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.
Even President Biden, who has his sights set on another presidential nomination in 2024, is positioning himself on one side of the abortion debate, hoping for a repeat of November’s election results.
In it he said: “The Court got Roe right 50 years ago. It was a balanced decision with broad national consensus that the majority of Americans have continued to support for the last 50 years. And it was a constitutional principle upheld by justices appointed by Democratic and Republican Presidents alike,” reports RTE.
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