A conservative majority of the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday, overruling decades of precedent that protected abortion rights in the US.
In a searing dissent, the court’s three liberal justices — Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan — decried what they said was a “cavalier approach to overturning” women’s rights.
“One result of today’s decision is certain: the curtailment of women’s rights, and of their status as free and equal citizens,” the justices wrote.
The trio noted the majority’s opinion would open the way for states to impose bans up until the moment of fertilization, as well as bans on emergency contraception.
“They have passed laws without any exceptions for when the woman is the victim of rape or incest,” the liberals wrote. “Under those laws, a woman will have to bear her rapist’s child or a young girl her father’s — no matter if doing so will destroy her life.”
States could, they noted, jail women for even attempting to seek an abortion or make it illegal to travel out of state to obtain one.
They said that Friday’s ruling will weigh hardest on poorer women who cannot afford to travel interstate or overseas for an abortion.
“The Constitution will, today’s majority holds, provide no shield, despite its guarantees of liberty and equality for all,” the trio wrote.
They also warned that, despite the majority’s contentions to the contrary, other rights could potentially come up for reconsideration by the Supreme Court, including same-sex relations, marriage for same-sex couples, and the right to contraception. In his concurring majority opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the court should indeed reconsider these cases.
Fundamentally, the liberal justices argued, the majority had shown a “cavalier approach” to overturning decades of established precedent, or so-called stare decisis.
“The majority has no good reason for the upheaval in law and society it sets off,” they wrote.
“The Court reverses course today for one reason and one reason only: because the composition of this Court has changed.”
Here is the liberal justices’ dissenting opinion in full: