The Supreme Court has ended constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place for more than 50 years. The result is expected to lead to abortion bans in 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 emboldening right side of the court.

Justice Samuel Alito leaked a draft opinion that indicated the court was prepared to take this momentous step.

According to opinion polls, it puts the court at odds with a majority of Americans who want to keep the abortion procedure legal.

Alito wrote that the 1992 decision to affirm the right to abortion was wrong the day it was made.

The constitution doesn't give a right to abortion. Alito said that the authority to regulate abortion must be returned to the people.

The courts don't have authority to regulate abortion, according to Alito.

Alito was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch. Three of the justices are appointees of the president. Thirty years ago, Thomas voted to overrule the Supreme Court.

John Roberts would have stopped short of ending the abortion right, but he would have upheld the Mississippi law that banned abortions after 15 weeks.

The liberals on the court were in dissent.

They dissented for the millions of American women who have lost a fundamental constitutional protection.

Minority women who already face limited access to health care are expected to be disproportionately affected by the ruling.

The only abortion clinic in Mississippi continues to see patients. Men outside told people inside the clinic that they would burn in hell. The clinic escort used large stereo speakers to blast the protest song, "I Won't Back Down."

13 states, mostly in the South and Midwest, have laws on the books that ban abortion in the event of a court ruling in favor of abortion rights. Many women don't know they're pregnant until after 6 weeks of the baby's birth.

The Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights, says that there will be a fight over abortion bans that were enacted before the decision of the Supreme Court.

According to Guttmacher, more than 90 percent of abortions take place in the first 13 weeks of a pregnant woman's life.

The decision came against a backdrop of public opinion surveys that show a majority of Americans don't want to change the law. According to polls conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, a majority of Americans want abortion to be illegal in all cases. Polls show that a majority of people want abortion to be legal in all or most circumstances, but also support restrictions later in pregnancies.

The Biden administration and other defenders of abortion rights have warned that a decision to overturn the law would threaten other high court decisions.

The majority eliminated a 50-year-old constitutional right that safeguards women's freedom and equal station, according to the liberals. The rule-of-law principle was designed to promote consistency in the law. It places other rights at risk, from contraception to same-sex intimacy. It undermines the court's legitimacy.

Alito said his analysis only addressed abortion. He wrote that there should be no doubt on the precedents that don't concern abortion.

Whatever the intentions of the person who leaked Alito's draft opinion, the conservatives were steadfast in their determination to overturn the decisions.

The arguments in favor of retaining the two decisions were dismissed by Alito in his draft.

The anti-abortion side wants to change the composition of the court. Two high-court defenders of abortion rights retired or died as Mississippi and its allies made more aggressive arguments. The state argued that its law could not be overruled by the court.

It was then- Gov. The 15-week measure was signed into law by Phil Bryant, who was a member of the five-justice majority that was protective of abortion rights.

Kennedy retired in the summer of 2016 and was replaced by a new justice. Lower federal courts blocked the law.

The state was headed to the Supreme Court. The law was thrown out by a three-judge panel of the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals in December.

The Supreme Court was going to consider the state's appeal.

The case will be considered at the justices' private conference. Ginsburg died and the nominee was confirmed without a single vote from the Democrats.

It took the court another year to agree to hear the case.

The thrust of Mississippi's argument had changed by the time it was filed with the court.

The first sign that the court might be receptive to wiping away the constitutional right to abortion came in late summer, when Texas was allowed to enforce a ban on the procedure before some women even know they are pregnant. The unique structure of the law and how it can be challenged in court were the subjects of the dispute.

The conservative justices refused to block the unconstitutional law because they did not want to break federal precedents. Roberts was one of the people who dissented.

The court again declined to block the Texas law after hearing more arguments, this time by a 4-3 vote. Roberts wrote in a partial dissent that the clear purpose and actual effect of S. B. 8 was to overturn the court's rulings.

In their Senate hearings, the three high court picks skirted questions about how they would vote.

Even though Democrats and abortion rights supporters predicted that the two would vote in favor of abortion rights, one Republican senator had a different opinion. According to private conversations she had with the two Supreme Court nominees, they wouldn't be in favor of reversing the abortion cases.

Before she became a federal judge, she was the most vocal opponent of abortion in her time as a law professor. She was a member of anti-abortion groups at Notre Dame University, where she taught law, and she signed a newspaper ad opposing abortion on demand. She said she would set aside her personal views when judging.

As a candidate, Trump predicted that whoever he named to the court would vote to overrule the Supreme Court's decision to legalized abortion.