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The U.S. Supreme Court’s ultraconservative majority effectively overturned Roe v. Wade and the Constitutional right to safe, legal abortion Tuesday night when they refused to issue an emergency stay of SB8, a Texas law making abortion illegal after six weeks, and putting a public bounty of $10,000 on abortion providers and anyone helping people seeking abortions. 

Republican state lawmakers in Texas designed SB8 to allow the Supreme Court’s ultraconservative majority to overturn Roe without specifically acknowledging that they were doing so. By banning abortion at six weeks, SB8 prohibits abortion at a point in time before most people know they’re pregnant, and makes an estimated 90 percent of abortions performed in Texas illegal.

Additionally, SB8 outsources the enforcement of its abortion prohibition to anti-abortion extremists, who can now bring a $10,000 civil suit against any doctors, clinic staff members, or friends and family members that “aided and abetted” anyone seeking an abortion. Even Uber drivers dropping off pregnant people at a clinic may be open to such a suit under SB8.

Abortion has been a Constitutional right for nearly 50 years, and according to Gallup, 58 percent of Americans are opposed to overturning Roe v. Wade. Excluding miscarriages, an estimated 18 percent of all pregnancies ended in abortion as of 2017, or nearly 900,000 cases. By allowing a law banning abortion to go into effect, the Court’s conservatives effectively overturned the controlling precedent established in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which recognizes the categorical Constitutional right to seek an abortion. 

Tuesday’s decision by the Supreme Court marks the third time in two weeks that the Court’s conservative majority made nationally important decisions without so much as holding a hearing, representing an historic turn for the Court, undermining its legitimacy and our democracy’s core tenets in the process. This includes the Court’s unprecedented decision to intervene in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy by upholding a district court mandate requiring the Biden administration to revive a Trump administration policy forcing refugees and asylum seekers to remain in Mexico. The Court also struck down the Biden administration’s eviction moratorium last week, subjecting 11 million people to potential homelessness during a once in a century pandemic.

Alliance for Justice President Nan Aron issued the following statement:

“By effectively overturning Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s ultraconservative majority just issued what must be interpreted as a formal declaration of war on the Constitutional rights and protections of hundreds of millions of people across the United States. People will die as a result of this decision, which falls most heavily on poor women, women of color, and young women living in unsafe or abusive environments.

“We vigorously opposed the confirmation of each of the three Trump appointed justices, who each have long histories of support for overturning Roe v. Wade. Now, in the dead of night, these same extremist justices allowed Texas to not only ban abortion, but to place literal bounties on abortion providers and anyone helping people seek an abortion. In doing so, the Court’s conservatives have all but ensured that similar laws will soon pass in other Republican-led states, meaning that hundreds of millions of people will no longer be able to seek safe and legal abortions.

“We cannot sit idly by and allow an increasingly out-of-control, outcome driven ultraconservative majority to use their position to turn back the clock on our rights and freedoms. This Court has now overturned a 40-year-old precedent in Janus to undermine workers; gutted the Voting Right Act, which guaranteed the right to vote for over 50 years; and has now threatened the health and reproductive healthcare of millions by effectively overturning Roe, which has been in place for nearly half a century. 

“All senators, including those like Susan Collins who profess to support reproductive rights, must own the impact of their support for anti-abortion judges, and all Americans who care about reproductive rights must now fight like never before. We must fight in state legislatures across the country, we must fight in the halls of Congress and we must fight for real reform to the Supreme Court, including expanding the number of justices. The very survival of our democracy, as well as our most critical Constitutional rights, depends on it.”

Alliance for Justice (AFJ) believes that all Americans have the right to secure justice in the courts and to have their voices heard when government makes decisions that affect their lives. We are a national association of more than 130 organizations, representing a broad array of groups committed to progressive values and the creation of an equitable, just, and free society. www.afj.org