The United States Supreme Court on Friday overturned the landmark 1973 Roe versus Wade ruling that had made abortion a constitutional right, The New York Times reported.

“The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives,” the court said, Mint reported.

According to the 1973 verdict, abortions were allowed up till the point of foetal viability, or the time period during which a foetus can survive outside the womb. At that time, foetal viability was considered to be at 28 weeks, but experts now believe that the point could now be brought down to between 22-24 weeks given advances in science and medicine.

A full labour term is 39 weeks of gestation.

This 1973 ruling has been among the most controversial judgements in the US and had been legally challenged many times over the years, especially with Republicans pushing for it to be overturned.

On Friday, the Supreme Court upheld the Republican-backed Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, Reuters reported. The Supreme Court has six of the nine judges backed by the Republicans.

The ruling was passed 6-3 in the top court, which has a conservative majority. Three of these judges were appointed during Donald Trump’s tenure as US president. Trump had promised to appoint judges who would overturn Roe versus Wade, according to Reuters.

The judges said that the Roe versus Wade decision had been wrongly decided. “The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision,” the court said in the ruling.

A draft version of the Supreme Court ruling to overturn the Roe versus Wade decision was leaked in May. Written by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, the document showed that a majority of justices of the Supreme Court were willing to overturn the 49-year precedent that protected a woman’s right to choose.

The draft had sparked protests across the country demanding protection for women’s reproductive rights.

US President Joe Biden had criticised the draft’s indicative ruling, saying that his administration is preparing a response to counter the continued attack on women’s rights.

The Supreme Court’s three liberal judges, who opposed overturning Roe, issued a joint statement, reported Reuters. Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan said that because of the court’s decision, “from the very moment of fertilisation, a woman has no rights to speak of. A state can force her to bring a pregnancy to term, even at the steepest personal and familial costs.”

After Friday’s ruling, individual states in the country will be allowed to ban abortion, The Guardian reported. At least 26 states are expected to immediately act upon the ruling, the newspaper said.