President Joe Biden has denounced a “tragic error” that “puts the health and lives of women at risk” and called on Americans to defend the right to abortion during the midterm elections in November.
While clinics in Missouri, South Dakota or Georgia closed their doors one after the other, Democratic states, such as California or New York, have pledged to defend access to abortions on their soil.
This revolution was triggered by the decision of the Supreme Court to revoke its emblematic judgment “Roe v. Wade”, which since 1973 guaranteed the right of American women to have an abortion, the majority of its judges considering it today “totally unfounded”. .
“The Constitution makes no reference to abortion and none of its articles implicitly protects this right,” wrote Judge Samuel Alito. “It is time to return the issue of abortion to the elected representatives of the people” in local parliaments.
This formulation is close to a preliminary draft judgment which had been the subject of an unprecedented leak at the beginning of May.
Even if it was expected, it prompted hundreds of people to express their joy or their sadness in front of the temple of law, in Washington.
“It’s hard to imagine living in a country that does not respect women’s rights,” said Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat, 49, stifling a sob. “We are entering a new culture of protection of life”, rejoiced conversely Gwen Charles, 21 years old.
– On Trump’s record –
The judgment published Friday “is one of the most important in the history of the Supreme Court since its creation in 1790”, notes health law professor Lawrence Gostin. “It has already happened that it changes its case law but to establish or restore a right, never to remove it,” he told AFP.
The decision goes against the international trend to liberalize abortions, with progress in countries where the influence of the Catholic Church remains strong, such as Ireland, Argentina, Mexico and Colombia.
Internationally, several voices, including those of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, have also deplored the American “backtrack”.
The judgment crowns 50 years of a methodical struggle led by the religious right, for whom it represents a huge victory but not the end of the battle: the movement should continue to mobilize to bring as many states as possible into its camp. or to try to get a federal ban.
It is also part of the record of former President Donald Trump who, during his mandate, profoundly overhauled the Supreme Court by bringing in three conservative magistrates (Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett) signatories today of this stop.
The Republican billionaire welcomed a judgment which “brings everything back to the level of the States” and respects the Constitution. “It’s God’s will,” he added on Fox.
Concretely, this relates to a Mississippi law which was content to reduce the legal time limit for an abortion. From the hearing in December, several judges had hinted that they intended to take the opportunity to review the Court’s case law more fundamentally.
The three progressive magistrates dissented from the majority which they say “endangers other privacy rights, such as contraception and same-sex marriages”, a concern reignited by appeals from one of the conservative judges, Clarence Thomas, to reopen these files.
The majority “has emancipated itself from its obligation to apply the law honestly and impartially”, they denounce in a text with a sharp tone.
The head of the court, the moderate conservative John Roberts, took in a separate argument a “more measured position”: in the name of “judicial deference”, he wanted to agree with Mississippi and review the deadlines for abortions without bringing down Roe vWade.
– “To fight” –
According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research center that campaigns for access to contraception and abortion in the world, half of the States should ban abortions in the more or less short term.
In part of the country, women wishing to have an abortion will therefore be forced to continue their pregnancy, to manage clandestinely, in particular by obtaining abortion pills on the internet, or to travel to other States, where abortions will remain legal.
Anticipating an influx, these states, most often Democrats, took measures to facilitate access to abortion on their soil and the clinics began to shift their resources in personnel and equipment.
The main family planning organization has promised to continue to “fight” to ensure access to abortion.
But traveling is expensive and the Supreme Court’s ruling will further penalize poor women or women raising children alone, who are over-represented in black and Hispanic minorities, abortion rights advocates say.