The Supreme Court overturning of the landmark Roe vs Wade ruling that made abortion legal has divided the opinions of millions of Americans. Many are dismayed by the ruling but anti-abortionists are celebrating what looks like a draconian decision.
In a narrow vote, five Supreme Court judges to three voted to overturn the ruling on Friday.
The landmark 1973 Roe v Wade case saw the Supreme Court rule by seven to two that a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy was protected by the US constitution.
The ruling gave American women an absolute right to an abortion in the first three months (trimester) of pregnancy, but allowed for restrictions in the second trimester and for prohibitions in the third.
But in the decades since, anti-abortion rulings have gradually pared back access in more than a dozen states.
Apparently, terminations will almost instantly be banned in 13 US States, sparking widespread outrage. Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming all have trigger laws in place.
It now looks as if 26 States in total are either eventually certain or likely to ban abortion outright.
The decision is seen as a "constitutional earthquake" that will reverberate across America for decades. It means abortion access will be cut off for about 36 million women of reproductive age.
Widespread protest and civil unrest around the US was seen after the announcement. Demonstrators from both sides had gathered outside the court in Washington DC, with police keeping them apart. Abortion is seen by many as a necessary option for many viable reasons, including rape, incest, life-threatening cases and where the foetus is severely handicapped. Most of the laws make exceptions only in cases where pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, or if an abortion is necessary to save a patient’s life
US President Joe Biden called the ruling a “sad day for the court and for the country”. He described it as "a tragic error" and urged states to enact laws to allow the procedure. Former US President Barack Obama said: "That’s a result none of us should want.
"The consequences of this decision would be a blow not just to women, but to all of us who believe that in a free society, there are limits to how much the government can encroach on our personal lives.
The new laws in Kentucky, Louisiana and South Dakota are expected to go into effect immediately.