The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24, dismantling an almost 50-year precedent protecting the right to abortion. Their 6-3 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was along partisan lines. The decision was widely anticipated due to a leaked draft majority opinion obtained by Politico in May indicating that the Supreme Court planned to strike down Roe.
Dobbs v. Jackson concerned a Mississippi law that would ban almost all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. However, the law was never enacted as lower courts found it to violate Roe v. Wade. The Supreme Court saw otherwise.
A landmark decision by the Supreme Court in 1973, Roe v. Wade protected a pregnant person’s liberty to have an abortion on the basis of a constitutional right to privacy found in the 14th Amendment.
Justice Samuel Alito, who authored the majority opinion to overturn Roe, said the initial Roe ruling was“egregiously wrong” and “an abuse of judicial authority.”
Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented, stating the decision was “based on nothing more than the new views of new judges.”
Currently, abortions in Georgia are legal up to about 22 weeks. However, with Roe overturned, a six week abortion ban will likely go into effect in Georgia in the coming weeks or months.
Attorney General Chris Carr stated that their office has already filed a notice in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, a federal court located in Atlanta, to allow the heartbeat bill to go into effect.
In 2019, Gov. Brian Kemp signed the so-called “heartbeat bill” into law — which would ban abortion after six weeks, before many people know they are pregnant. The law was later struck down by the federal court, ruling that the measure was unconstitutional under precedent set by Roe v. Wade.
Unlike other states — such as Tennessee and Texas — Georgia does not have a trigger law in place that will prohibit abortion now that Roe is overturned.
In a June 24 email to the Emory University community, University President Gregory Fenves wrote that “it’s hard to see [the decision] as anything but a painful regression.” Fenves added that the ruling is likely to impact Emory.
“As a university and an employer, Emory is highly likely to face new limits on the reproductive health care coverage we can offer our students, faculty and staff,” Fenves wrote. “We are working closely with partner organizations throughout the state to review and adapt to these changes.”
It’s not just reproductive rights that are under threat. Arguing in his concurring opinion that the right to abortion was not a liberty protected by the 14th Amendment’s due process clause, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas cited three other landmark causes that the Supreme Court should reconsider. The three cases are based on the same legal reasoning that the Supreme Court used to overturn Roe v. Wade. This puts current rights, including access to contraceptives, freedom to have same-sex intercourse and the legality of same-sex marriage, in jeopardy.
“For that reason, in future cases, we should reconsider all of the Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence and Obergefell,” Thomas wrote.
With the midterm elections approaching — particularly the gubernatorial race, which will see Kemp face Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams — reproductive rights will be a pivotal issue that will dictate the future of Georgia.
Kemp takes a pro-life stance on aboriton, and has supported restrictive abortion laws such as signing the heartbeat bill into law.
He expressed confidence that the heartbeat bill will soon go into effect, stating that the law will “ultimately protect countless unborn lives here in the Peach State.”
Abrams has voiced her discontent with the reversal of Roe, and is running on a pro-choice campaign.
“I am appalled. Enraged. Undaunted and ready to fight back,” Abrams wrote in a tweet in response to the overturning of Roe.