Abortion rights overturned in US as Supreme Court makes ruling on Roe vs Wade

The right has existed in the country for almost 50 years

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The power to decide on abortion rights for tens of millions of women will now be handed to the 50 states to determine individually.

Abortion rights have existed in the country for almost 50 years, but could now be restricted or banned in many parts of the US.

The court, in a 6-3 ruling powered by its conservative majority, upheld a Republican-backed Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks.

Anti-abortion demonstrators celebrate the decision outside the US Supreme Court
Anti-abortion demonstrators celebrate the decision outside the US Supreme Court

The justices held that the Roe vs Wade decision that allowed abortions performed before a foetus would be viable outside the womb - between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy - was wrongly decided because the US Constitution makes no specific mention of abortion rights.

Mississippi's law had previously been blocked by lower courts as a violation of Supreme Court precedent on abortion rights.

At least 25 states are poised to bring in new laws which will make it illegal to access abortion in many cases.

While in some instances they will ban abortion where the pregnancy has come as a result of rape or incest.

A draft version of the ruling indicating the court was likely to overturn Roe was leaked in May, igniting a political firestorm.

Protesters hitting out at the leaked ruling outside the White House earlier this year
Protesters hitting out at the leaked ruling outside the White House earlier this year

Chief Justice John Roberts denounced the leak of Justice Samuel Alito's draft opinion in the case and announced an investigation to identify the culprit.

Supreme Court leaks are extremely rare, especially concerning internal deliberations before a ruling is issued.

Following the leak, US President Joe Biden condemned the overturning of Roe as a "radical" step and urged Congress to pass legislation protecting abortion access nationally.

Thousands of people rallied for abortion rights in Washington and other cities after the leak, including some protesters at the homes of some conservative justices.

A California man armed with a handgun, ammunition, a crow bar and pepper spray was arrested near Justice Brett Kavanaugh's Maryland home on June 8 and charged with attempted murder.

And the confirmation of the decision is expected to see further protests across the country.