February 21, 2024

Rights to legal abortions hang in the balance since a draft from Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. was leaked on Monday (May 2) detailing the decision to overrule the 1973 landmark ruling of women’s federal constitutional right to abortions.

According to Politico, Alito wrote in the draft labeled “Opinion of the Court,” “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. We hold that Roe [v. Wade] and [the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey] must be overruled. It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences,” Alito wrote in the draft. “And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.”

Planned Parenthood v. Casey upholds Roe and bans states from disallowing abortion before viability, or when a fetus can survive outside of the womb. CNN stated that five Justices (Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett) make up the majority overruling Roe.

Chief Justice John Roberts released a statement on Tuesday (May 3). “This was a singular and egregious breach of that trust that is an affront to the Court and the community of public servants who work here. I have directed the Marshal of the Court to launch an investigation into the source of the leak,” expressed Roberts.

He added, “To the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the Court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed. The work of the Court will not be affected in any way. We at the Court are blessed to have a workforce—permanent employees and law clerks alike—intensely loyal to the institution and dedicated to the rule of law. Court employees have an exemplary and important tradition of respecting the confidentiality of the judicial process and upholding the trust of the Court.”

It’s being predicated that 26 states are likely to ban abortion outright without Roe, specifically in the South and Midwest. This could lead to a higher rate of illegal and dangerous abortions, especially for underprivileged women unable to travel for legal abortions.

Marcela Howell, president and CEO of In Our Own Voice, the National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, told Refinery29, “Roe is the floor, not the ceiling.”

Politico added that “no draft decision in the modern history of the court has been disclosed publicly while a case was still pending.” Several reports state that the court’s decision will not be final until it is published, which many anticipate will happen in the next two months.

President Joe Biden, who supports abortion rights, shared a statement on the leaked draft. “We do not know whether this draft is genuine, or whether it reflects the final decision of the Court […] I believe that a woman’s right to choose is fundamental. If the Court does overturn Roe, it will fall on our nation’s elected officials at all levels of government to protect a woman’s right to choose. And it will fall on voters to elect pro-choice officials this November.”

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