AG James vows New York will remain ‘safe haven’ for abortion as she slams ‘vicious decision’ to overturn Roe

‘The Supreme Court’s vicious decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is one of the darkest moments in the history of this nation,’ she tweets

What The Supreme Court ruling means for abortion rights in America

New York Attorney General Letitia James has vowed that the state will “always be a safe haven” for women seeking abortions as she slammed the “vicious decision” to overturn Roe v Wade.

The state’s top lawyer issued a statement on Friday just minutes after the conservative-majority US Supreme Court handed down its ruling on abortion access and effectively backpedaled on the reproductive rights of the American people by half a century.

Ms James called the ruling “one of the darkest moments in the history of this nation” and pledged that to work “tirelessly” to protect access to abortion care in the Empire state.

“The Supreme Court’s vicious decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is one of the darkest moments in the history of this nation,” she tweeted.

“Make no mistake: While other states strip away the fundamental right to choose, New York will always be a safe haven for anyone seeking an abortion.

“I will work tirelessly to ensure our most vulnerable and people from hostile states have access to this lifesaving care.”

She added: “Everyone in this nation deserves the right to make their own decisions about their bodies.”

On Friday morning the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v Wade ruling, ending the right to abortion access for millions of women across America.

In the case of Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the nation’s highest court ruled 6-3 in favour of a Mississippi law that outlaws abortion at 15 weeks of pregnancy.

All six conservative justices voted to uphold the state’s abortion restriction and, in the process, five – excluding Chief Justice John Roberts – voted to strike down the 1973 Roe ruling which guaranteed a consitutional right to abortion and the 1992 Planned Parenthood v Casey ruling which had further cemented that right.

In their historic decision, the nine-person court has effectively backpedaled on the reproductive rights of the American people by 50 years and placed the power over women’s bodies in the hands of the states.

While the leak of a draft opinion last month revealed the court’s plan to overturn Roe, the decision was somewhat unexpected as Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh both swore under oath during their confirmation hearings that they believed the ruling was settled legal precedent.

Abortion instantly became illegal across several Republican-led states including South Dakota, Louisiana and Kentucky after they implemented “trigger laws” to ban the procedure as soon as Roe was overturned.

In his majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that Roe and Casey were “egregiously wrong” and “must be overruled”.

“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” he wrote.

“Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences.

“And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.”

In their dissent, liberal Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan blasted the decision.

“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 wrote.

“It is truly sad.”

The final ruling comes over a month after a draft majority opinion was leaked back on 2 May, revealing the court’s intentions to overturn abortion rights.

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Following the leak, several Democrat-led states including New York strengthened abortion protections.

Abortion was already protected in New York under laws passed in 2019.

The state passed comprehensive abortion protections and removed abortion from the state’s criminal code, with the right to an abortion protected up until 24 weeks of pregnancy.

After 24 weeks, abortion care is allowed only to protect the life or health of the patient or if the foetus is no longer viable.

Following the leak of the Supreme Court draft in May, the state pushed through several measures to further protect abortion access, including protections for people coming from other states to seek an abortion in New York.

Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation on 13 June shielding both abortion patients coming from other states as well as clinicians who provide abortion services for them from facing out-of-state legal action.

The governor also announced a $35m state fund to assist abortion providers to pay abortion providers and assist low-income and uninsured or underinsured abortion patients seeking care and to fund additional security at clinics.

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