Six conservatives on the Supreme Court have ended the constitutional right to abortion in the United States. In a 6-3 decision released Friday, the court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Some 28 states are expected to outlaw or severely restrict abortion access as a result of the 79-page majority opinion, which was written by Justice Samuel Alito.
A draft version of Alitos' opinion leaked in May, signaling that the court was poised to take the shocking step of overturning a half-century of precedent. And the language of the final decision reads similarly. Alito calls Roe "egregiously wrong from the start" because "the Constitution makes no reference to abortion."
Alito was joined in his majority opinion by Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. According to NBC News, "Chief Justice John Roberts voted with the other conservative justices to uphold the Mississippi law but urged in a concurring opinion against going further."
In their dissent, the three liberal justices on the court — Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor — accused the majority of acting out of blatant partisanship.
"With sorrow — for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection — we dissent," they said.
We break down what’s in the decision, which justices said what, and what comes next below.
What does the majority opinion say?
The case that triggered the decision is Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which stemmed from a 2018 Mississippi law banning all abortions after 15 weeks of gestation and the ensuing litigation brought by the state’s only abortion care provider. In a 6-3 ruling, the majority determined that the constitutional right to privacy — which both Roe and a related 1992 decision, Planned Parenthood of Pennsylvania v. Casey, are contingent on – does not automatically include abortion. In this legal interpretation, the majority argues that Roe was therefore based on a wrong premise, and Casey only enshrined its wrongness.
"Roe [was] egregiously wrong and on a collision course with the Constitution from the day it was decided. Casey perpetuated its errors, calling both sides of the national controversy to resolve their debate, but in doing so, Casey necessarily declared a winning side," the court’s summary of the decision reads. "Those on the losing side — those who sought to advance the State’s interest in fetal life — could no longer seek to persuade their elected representatives to adopt policies consistent with their views. The Court short-circuited the democratic process by closing it to the large number of Americans who disagreed with Roe."
This ruling does not come as a surprise, given reports that show that former president Donald Trump committed to pushing anti-choice justices onto the court in exchange for pro-life groups mobilizing their base in support of his presidency.
What do the dissenting justices say?
Unusually, the three liberal justices shared joint authorship of the dissent. With the prior cases like Casey and Roe, the dissenting justices wrote, "the Court struck a balance, as it often does when values and goals compete."
"Today, the Court discards that balance," the dissent continues. "It says that from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of." The justices dig into the variety of "draconian restrictions" that a pregnant person will now be forced into giving birth, including rape and incest, even at the risk of the life of the pregnant person; they underscore how these restrictions will unduly impact poor people. "Across a vast array of circumstances, a State will be able to impose its moral choice on a woman and coerce her to give birth to a child," the dissent reads.
"With sorrow — for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection — we dissent," the dissent concludes.
What does this decision mean for other Supreme Court precedents?
As Namrata Verghese wrote in a recent Teen Vogue oped, the Roe decision puts us in "uncharted waters." Other rulings that protect contraception, same-sex marriage, and same-sex relationships are now at risk of being overturned, too, as Thomas made clear in a concurring opinion.
Thomas's opinion explicitly calls on the court to reconsider the precedents set by other landmark cases involving the 14th Amendment right to privacy, which was the protection that once justified Roe. The conservative justice specifically cites Griswold v. Connecticut (which guaranteed the right to contraception), Lawrence v. Texas (the right to same-sex intimacy) and Obergefell v. Hodges (the right to same-sex marriage).
The liberal justices on the court seem to think the rest of the court is planning to move forward with this larger-scale rollback of civil liberties. "No one should be confident that the majority is done with its work," they write in their dissent. "To the contrary, the Court has linked [the right to an abortion] for decades to other settled freedoms involving bodily integrity, familial relationships, and procreation."
How are abortion rights groups and politicians responding?
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joined throngs of protesters outside the Supreme Court, calling for people to get "into the streets" and chanting that the decision is "illegitimate."
The Working Families Party claimed that "white Christian nationalists have been working towards this moment for 50 years," but that the decision is "out of step with the values and beliefs of the American people." Pew Research Center has consistently found that around six in 10 Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
Major abortion and civil rights organizations also condemned the ruling. NARAL Pro-Choice America President Mini Timmaraju called it "the worst-case scenario," warning that "the impact on the real lives of real people will be devastating." The ACLU called it "an unprecedented attack on women's rights and reproductive freedoms," noting that women will face health risks, poverty, and other harms if they're forced to carry pregnancies against their will. With states criminalizing abortion access, pregnant women and doctors are also more likely to face prosecution for obtaining or providing this procedure, the ACLU points out.
What resources are available for people seeking abortion care now?
People have been getting abortions as long as they've been able to get pregnant, and they will still access abortions now that Roe is overturned. Sixteen states have passed laws protecting the right to abortion post-Roe, and Abortion Finder compiled a resource guide on how to find a clinic near you. Teen Vogue compiled a guide to the details and possible legal risks of self-managed medication abortion.
This story originally appeared on Teen Vogue.