DENVER (KDVR) — The Supreme Court has issued a ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade in its opinion on the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, which aligns with a draft ruling that was leaked by Politico in May.
The Supreme Court vote was a 6-3 majority, with Republican-appointed justices John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett on the majority side and Democrat-appointed justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan on the dissenting side.
Roe v. Wade was a ruling made in 1973 that said the U.S. Constitution protects a woman’s right to have an abortion without excessive government restrictions. In essence, it allowed individual states to determine when an abortion would be allowed but prevented them from banning it outright up until viability at 23 weeks.
The case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is related to Mississippi’s state law banning abortion more than 15 weeks after pregnancy.
The side of Dobbs, represented by Mississippi Solicitor General Scott Stewart, argued in favor of the state’s law and said it’s within the state’s right to make this rule. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, represented by Senior Litigation Director for the Center for Reproductive Rights Julie Rikelman, argued that Mississippi’s law is unconstitutional and is against the precedent set by Roe v. Wade.
The court’s ruling in the case is in favor of Dobbs, and therefore gives states the ability to make more restrictive laws and ban abortion if lawmakers decide to do so.
What this decision means for Coloradans
Here in Colorado, the right to abortion is protected under current laws but that could change with future lawmakers.
Gov. Jared Polis signed the Reproductive Health Equity Act into law in April. That was a move by state Democrats to protect a woman’s right to an abortion and access to reproductive health care in the state.
The law also states that “a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent or derivative rights” under Colorado state law.
“While states like Texas, Florida, and Arizona are engaging in the unwelcome intrusion of government into deeply personal and religious decisions, Colorado remains a refuge where individual rights are respected and where any person has the ability to live, work, thrive, and raise a family on their own terms,” Polis said after a draft version of the Supreme Court’s decision leaked in May.
In the fall of 2021, Colorado abortion providers noticed a spike in women driving thousands of miles to get abortion procedures done in Denver after Texas passed one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. There was also a similar spike in April 2020 when the Texas governor signed an executive order to temporarily stop procedures that were not medically necessary, including abortions, as a response to COVID-19.
Not all of Colorado’s lawmakers are opposed to the Supreme Court’s decision, and support generally falls along party lines, with Democrats supporting abortion rights and Republicans being anti-abortion.
“Republicans believe that every single life is precious and that every child is worth saving. Equal rights are not equal until they extend to every human being. I pray that the Supreme Court releases an official decision that recognizes that fact. We must all choose to keep working until every child is protected, every woman is supported, and every family is strong,” Colorado GOP Chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown said when the draft version of the decision was leaked.
Democrats have a majority in both chambers of the Colorado General Assembly and a Democrat has been elected as governor in every election since 2007.
“The one limitation of that is that it’s codified in statute, but not in the state constitution. So, if there were a change in political leadership in the state, it’s possible that that law could be removed,” Josh Wilson, chairman of the political science department at the University of Denver, told FOX31 in May.