THE US Supreme Court has ended constitutional protections for abortion in a decision by its conservative majority to overturn Roe v Wade.

The ruling is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states.

The decision, unthinkable just a few years ago, was the culmination of decades of efforts by abortion opponents, made possible by an emboldened right side of the court that has been fortified by three appointees of former president Donald Trump.

The ruling came more than a month after the stunning leak of a draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito indicating the court was prepared to take this momentous step.

In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon expressed her disappointment at the ruling on social media.

She wrote: “One of the darkest days for women’s rights in my lifetime.

"Obviously the immediate consequences will be suffered by women in the US – but this will embolden anti-abortion & anti-women forces in other countries too.

“Solidarity doesn’t feel enough right now – but it is necessary.”

The National heard from Abortion Rights UK, who said they are “utterly devastated and shocked” by the decision.

Vice-chair Judith Orr said: “This will give confidence to anti-abortion campaigners both here in Britain and globally and we are going to resist and fight this and fight to improve abortion services here in Britain.

“I think it’s a disgrace that women going in for healthcare are harassed and shouted at. This is the biggest attack on reproductive rights in decades.

“In many states across America tonight, it will be illegal to access abortion because so many have trigger laws that were ready to come into effect.”

Abortion was first made legal in the US in 1973, after a ruling known as Roe vs Wade. Up until that point, abortion had only been legal if it would save a woman’s life.

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It brought in a trimester system which gave women an absolute right to an abortion in the first trimester, some regulation in the second, and a state the right to prevent it in the third.

Abortion is one of the most controversial topics in America and opinions are split on the impact this ruling will have.

Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said: “With Roe now out of their way, radical Republicans are charging ahead with their crusade to criminalize health freedom.

“In the Congress, Republicans are plotting a nationwide abortion ban. In the states, Republicans want to arrest doctors for offering reproductive care and women for terminating a pregnancy.

She went onto describe the ruling as “cruel, outrageous and heart-wrenching.”

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On the other side of the debate, former US vice-president Mike Pence said that “life won” and that the US Supreme Court has “righted a historic wrong.”

He said: “Having been given this second chance for life, we must not rest and must not relent until the sanctity of life is restored to the centre of American law in every state in the land.”

The National has also spoken with Labour MSP Monica Lennon who has been a vocal critics of anti-abortion groups campaigning outside of clinics here in Scotland.

Lennon said: “It’s anti-women, it’s anti-choice, it’s anti-health. Feelings of despair and desperation will be commonplace.

“There’s a real danger that this will embolden anti-choice groups and movements and we know that here in Scotland clinic harassment is a daily experience for women trying to access abortion care.”

In Glasgow, doctors at Sandyford Sexual Health Clinic have recently expressed their anger at anti-abortion protests which have been taking place outside the building.

“We do have an opportunity to bring people together, both women with their experiences and healthcare workers and other experts and it’s positive that the First Minister will personally convene those talks, but it can’t just be a one-off summit.

“Gillian Mackay’s proposal for a members’ bill is very important and I would encourage people to respond to that and support the buffer zone legislation.

“Clinic harassment is happening today, tomorrow and next week. We need tougher action from Police Scotland, better guidelines to protect patients and workers and we need to make sure that across Scotland people are alive to the threats to women’s rights.

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“It’s happening today, tomorrow, next week. Tougher action from Police Scotlland, better guidelines to protect workers and that across society people are alive to the threats to women’s rights.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also given his thoughts on the ruling, saying it was a “big step backwards”.

He said: “I have always believed in a woman’s right to choose and I stick to that view, that’s why the UK has the laws that it does.”

Referring to changes to the law in Northern Ireland, Johnson added: “We recently took steps to ensure that those laws were enforced throughout the whole of the UK.”

The British Medical Association (BMA) also expressed concern over the decision, warning that banning abortion leads to unsafe terminations. 

Chair of the BMA medical ethics committee Dr Zoe Greaves said: “Banning or severely restricting abortion prevents only the safe termination of pregnancy – it does not prevent abortions.

“If women are denied necessary and appropriate care they will be forced to travel out of their home state to access services, something which is also being suggested will be made illegal.

“It could also drive abortion services underground and lead to an increase in self-administered abortions, placing the most vulnerable of women at greatest risk of harm.”