After 49 years, abortion is no longer universal in the United States. The Supreme Court, which in 1973 had voted in favor of the legalization of the interruption of pregnancy throughout the country, has reversed course and has issued a ruling in which it declares that this is a decision that falls exclusively to the states. Since there is no legislation on abortion in the US, and it is impossible for this to happen since it would never reach the necessary quorum in the Senate, it is the Supreme Court who decides on the matter. To date, the Court’s decision was that abortion was legal throughout the country, although the states had the power to limit its application. From now on, states can ban it.

And many are going to ban it. Specifically, in 26 of the 50 states that are part of the United States they could ban abortion after the decision of the Supreme Court, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an organization that supports the maintenance of the interruption of pregnancy. It is unclear, however, on how many the ban will take place, and also when. In three states, this practice has already been, to this day, prohibited. These are South Dakota, Kentucky, and Louisiana. In five others – Arkansas, Utah, Oklahoma, North Dakota and Missouri – it could be outlawed today, if authorities in those states so decide.

In fact, the Missouri attorney general hastened this Friday to declare that his state will be the “first” to ban voluntary interruptions of pregnancy after the decision of the Supreme Court. “Missouri just became the first in the country to effectively end abortion,” Attorney General Eric Schmitt said on Twitter. “This is a monumental day for the sanctity of life.”

In total, 18% of the US population lives in these territories. These are territories in which abortion was already very limited, both because of the waiting periods that women who wanted to carry them out had to comply with and because of the procedures they were forced to undergo and because of the scarcity of centers in which they were performed. carried out terminations of pregnancy.

In South Dakota, for example, there is only one clinic that performs abortions, also located in Sioux Falls, a city located in the extreme southeast of the state, despite the fact that it is a territory as large as Andalusia, Murcia, the Valencian community, and Castilla-La Mancha together, with a population of 800,000 inhabitants. Sioux Falls, moreover, is at the opposite end of the spectrum from most of the state’s Indian reservations, regions of extreme poverty where the majority of unwanted pregnancies occur.

In the other 18 states that remain pending according to the Guttmacher Institute, the situation is much more confused. In many of them there are appeals before the Supreme Courts of the states against the ban. In others, the authorities themselves refuse to implement the state legislation that prohibits it, which is creating intricate institutional and legal problems. Finally, there are states like Texas where the jurisprudence does not clarify to what extent the repeal of abortion decided by the state supposes the prohibition of this practice or the return to the situation prior to 1973, in which it was legal, although with a different regulation.

There are also other conditions. Some states are threatening legal action against women who travel to other states for abortions, a move whose legality is highly uncertain. Numerous large companies, such as Tesla, Apple, Amazon, Citigroup, Microsoft, Match, Netflix or Salesforce, will pay the expenses of their employees who have to travel to other states to have an abortion.

The battle over abortion, therefore, continues. The speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, has described the sentence as a “slap in the face of women”, in line with the general opinion of her party. In fact, of the 220 Democrats in the House of Representatives, 219 support abortion. Curiously, the only one who opposes it, Henry Cuellar, prevailed in the primaries of his party against a rival who defends abortion.

The political division on this point is total. Just 26% of Democratic voters call themselves ‘pro-life’, while only 22% of Republicans call themselves ‘pro-choice’. That has been made clear in the Supreme Court ruling. Five justices appointed by Republican presidents Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump have voted to strike down abortion rights. Three elected by Democratic presidents – Bill Clinton and Barack Obama – voted against it. The only one who did not follow this ‘party discipline’ was the president of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, who was put in office by George W. Bush and voted against it.

Interestingly, when in 1973 the Supreme Court legalized abortion throughout the country, it was with the majority support of the Republican magistrates. At that time, the evangelical churches were also in favor of abortion. Now all that has radically changed. Although there is also a religious factor. Four of the five judges who have voted in favor of repealing the universality of abortion are Catholic, although it is true that two of the four who want to maintain it are also Catholic.

Public opinion, however, is in favor of abortion. According to a survey by the Pew Study Center, an independent public opinion research organization, 61% of the population is in favor of abortion, and 37% is against it. The proportion in favor of maintaining the legality of this practice has been growing steadily since 2009. However, the ‘pro-life’ are much more mobilized, and vote in elections, unlike the ‘pro-choice’). In the US, 930,000 abortions were performed in 2020. The number has been rising in recent years, although it is still far from the maximum of more than 1.5 million reached two decades ago.

President Joe Biden, for his part, has pointed to the conservative judges nominated during the presidency of Donald Trump as those responsible for abortion ceasing to be a constitutional right. Biden has considered that the decision is a “tragic mistake” as a result of “putting an extreme ideology into practice.” In addition, he has affirmed this Friday that his government will defend the right to abortion and has encouraged Americans to go to vote in the November elections to guarantee a majority in Congress to pass laws that protect it.

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