US Supreme Court rules that abortions can be outlawed if a fetus has Down syndrome article Abortion is not a violation of constitutional rights if it is the result of a medical procedure which is medically necessary to preserve life, the Supreme Court has ruled.
Key points:The ruling was welcomed by some, including some of the justices who voted to overturn Roe v Wade in 1973It is expected that some other justices will follow suit as they look to the Supreme court for guidance on abortionThe ruling also extends the right to abortion rights to some women in states that have adopted the procedureThe court ruled that a woman who is planning an abortion and is aware of the risk of her fetus developing Down syndrome is not prevented from doing so.
The court held that this means that the fetus is protected from medical treatment by the unborn child.
“If a woman decides to terminate a pregnancy, it is no longer an abortion,” Justice Anthony Kennedy said in his opinion.
“It is now a medical matter.”
Mr Kennedy’s majority opinion also extended the right of women who want an abortion to do so.
It said: “This right is the same as that which a woman has when she makes a medical decision, including choosing whether to have an abortion or not.”
The court did not explicitly rule out allowing states to enact a ban on abortion, but said states should be free to regulate the procedure as they see fit.
“It is difficult to imagine any circumstance in which it would be constitutional to require a woman to undergo the procedures which the court finds to be necessary to protect the life of her unborn child, especially given that the unborn is the biological product of the woman’s decision,” the majority opinion said.
The ruling comes as the Supreme, in its latest term, is set to consider whether to take up abortion cases.
The high court has repeatedly rejected appeals of state bans on abortion in the past.
In 2013, the court rejected a challenge to a Wisconsin law that imposed a 20-week waiting period before a woman could be required to have the procedure, citing the right against forced pregnancy.
In its 2014 ruling upholding a ban in North Dakota, the justices ruled that the right not to be forced to have abortions is “the same as the right that a man has not to rape or murder his wife”.
Mr Kennedy wrote that he believed that the court should take a more expansive view of the issue, particularly if it was to address the question of whether a woman should be able to terminate an abortion in a state where the procedure is medically unnecessary.
“We think it is important to take a broader view,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the dissenting justice, said in her dissent.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the other justice in the majority, wrote that she would not have joined the majority in upholding Wisconsin’s law had she known of the risks of the procedure.
“The court has a responsibility to protect unborn children, not to allow states to impose unnecessary restrictions on abortion,” she wrote.
“I believe that a court should have the right, however narrow, to allow abortion when the medical necessity exists.”
A spokeswoman for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, the leading US religious group, praised the decision.
“These decisions affirm that the lives of unborn children are worthy of protection, even in the face of serious risks,” said Catherine Murphy, spokeswoman for US Conference President Jeffrey L Harrison.