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Report: Draft opinion suggests high court could overturn Roe

APTOPIX Supreme Court Abortion
NF Abortion rights rally (May 3)
Posted at 12:22 AM, May 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-03 22:27:07-04

WASHINGTON (AP) — A draft opinion suggests the U.S. Supreme Court could be poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide. That's according to a Politico report released Monday.

The decision to potentially overturn Roe v. Wade is due to a case concerning Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks.

The law was blocked by lower courts because it directly conflicts with the Supreme Court’s decisions in 1973’s Roe v. Wade and 1992’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which reaffirmed the landmark abortion decision.

A decision to overrule Roe would lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states and could have huge ramifications for this year’s elections.

But it’s unclear if the draft represents the court’s final word on the matter — opinions often change in ways big and small in the drafting process.

Later Tuesday morning, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts authenticated the draft opinion.

Roberts said the draft "does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issue in the case."

The chief justice added that he has directed the Marshal of the Court to launch an investigation into who leaked the document.

A crowd of people gathered outside the Supreme Court after news of the draft opinion began spreading.

The reaction was also swift from lawmakers. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer released a joint statement.

"The Republican-appointed Justices’ reported votes to overturn Roe v. Wade would go down as an abomination, one of the worst and most damaging decisions in modern history," the statement says.

Republicans have also addressed the report. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said if the report is correct, she would call for a special session to "save lives and guarantee that every unborn child has a right to life" in the state.

Sen. Mitch McConnell focused on the leak of the draft opinion rather than what the opinion said.

"This lawless action should be investigated and punished as fully as possible. The Chief Justice must get to the bottom of it and the Department of Justice must pursue criminal charges if applicable," McConnell said.

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin released the following statement:

“I am in utter disbelief that the sacred confidentiality of the Supreme Court would be violated in this manner. Sadly, this leak was done in order to cause chaos and to put pressure on justices and elected officials. It’s premature to speculate on what the Supreme Court’s decision will be; however, we learned from listening to Virginians over the last year that we have much common ground on this issue. I am pro-life, and I have been very clear about that since the day I launched my campaign. While we wait for the final June decision, we will be focused on lowering taxes for Virginians, funding education and law enforcement because we need to get a budget passed,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin.

On Tuesday, Youngkin was asked his opinion on this leak. He says he is pro-life and does support abortion being a state's decision. He says Virginia wants fewer abortions, not more.

Youngkin said this leak is a breach and confidence and provides damage to our Supreme Court and will not speculate on what Virginia will do until the court makes a final decision.

If the court does rule to allow states to decide on abortion rights, News 3 Washington Correspondent Joe St. George believes there will be a great deal of attention on Virginia lawmakers who would suddenly have greater power.

"It would mean that what's happening in Richmond, the governor, the General Assembly would have more power than ever before to pass the abortion laws that they want," he told anchor Blaine Stewart during an interview on News 3 This Morning.

"Gubernatorial elections in the Commonwealth will be more significant. General Assembly elections in the Commonwealth will be more significant," he adds.

What to watch in Virginia if Roe v. Wade decision comes down

News 3 spoke with other legal experts to learn more about what this decision could mean for states.

“It’s safe to say if Roe and Casey ended today, you would have some states that allow abortion on demand, right up until live birth. You would have other states that ban almost all abortions unless the mother is actually at risk, and you would have everything in between," Brad Jacob, JD, associate dean and professor at Regent University.

Ruth Osorio, PhD, a women's studies professor at Old Dominion University, says this inconsistency and idea of forced birth will weigh on the minds of women nationwide.

Osorio also worries that banning legal abortions will lead to illegal and unsafe abortions, especially for low-income women who don't have the resources to travel across the country for a safe procedure.

"Abortions happened before and after Roe v Wade and they'll continue to happen after. What Roe v Wade did was provide women and others with uteruses access to safe and legal abortion. Without that access, people are going to resort to desperate measures," Osorio said.

She mentioned to News 3 a woman in Texas, Lizaelle Herrara, who was charged with murder for a self-induced abortion.

"Ultimately those charges were dropped, but that sent a chilling effect. And what that effect is going to do, is people who do home abortions, will be less likely to seek out medical care," Osorio said.

In Virginia, Planned Parenthood rates the Commonwealth as a state where abortion is fairly accessible.

Abortions are legal during the first and second trimesters in Virginia. But, for the most part, there is no Medicaid funding for abortions, and physicians are allowed to deny the procedure if they are morally, ethically, or religiously opposed.

Abortion rights fight

On Tuesday, the Hampton Roads Reproductive Justice League held a rally with other abortion rights activists at the Norfolk Courthouse.

NF Abortion rights rally (May 3)
NF Abortion rights rally (May 3)
NF Abortion rights rally (May 3)

In North Carolina, state citizens are said to have restricted access to abortions. This is due to their state-mandated abortion counseling followed by a 72-hour waiting period - and their state health care restricting abortion coverage.

News 3 reached out to the Catholic Diocese of Richmond on their thoughts on the leak. They released the following statement:

“Since the information circulating is not the official opinion of the Supreme Court, we opt to decline offering any comment until the Supreme Court issues its decision out of the respect for the judicial process.”

Congressman Bobby Scott made the following statement:

“Every woman, regardless of her background or socioeconomic status, deserves the right to make her own medical decisions. That is why I was proud to vote for the Women’s Health Protection Act last fall to protect reproductive rights at the federal level. These reports make it abundantly clear why the Senate must immediately pass that bill and send it to President Biden’s desk.”

Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.), released the following statement:

“Roe v. Wade has been law since 1973, and I am deeply concerned by reports that the Supreme Court is poised to overturn this decision that protects a woman’s right to choose. If the leaked decision is made final, women across the country would be stripped of their constitutional rights to make choices about their own bodies. This is a decision to be made between a woman, her health care provider, and her faith—it is not the place of government to dictate a woman’s choices. Banning abortion does not stop abortions, it only prevents women from receiving safe health care and medical services that they need. I will continue to fight to protect the fundamental rights of all Americans.”

Press Secretary Ellie Sorensen issued the following statement on behalf of the Republican Party of Virginia:

“No matter what the Supreme Court decides, the Republican Party of Virginia will unequivocally defend the dignity of all human life in our Commonwealth. The pro-life movement is on the right side of history.”

Del. Angelia Williams Graves (D-Norfolk) released the following statement regarding the leaked draft:

We must guard against any unnecessary intrusions into private personal rights, health decisions, and family planning by the government. A woman’s right to choose is common sense and fundamental. Our state and national governments have recognized Roe as the law of the land for almost fifty years, and basic fairness and the stability of our law demand that it not be overturned.

I am outraged at the prospect of reversing long-standing legal precedent and returning our nation to back alley abortions, forcing rape and incest victims to have no options. This court and the Republican Party is out of touch with the vast majority of Americans who support Roe. Simply put, reversing Roe, puts women’s lives at risk because of the lack of reproductive healthcare options.

If the Court does overturn Roe, it will fall on the General Assembly to protect a woman’s right to choose in Virginia. I, along with the Democratic Caucus will fight to preserve individual rights for women and all Virginians. Our next few elections will be so important to bring back common sense to government and preserve fundamental freedoms and rights.

"We (women) were not created with a spirit of fear but with a sound mind and we can decide what is best for us, our bodies, and our lives. Women are fully capable of making decisions for themselves. This potential ruling is egregious and insulting to the intellect of every woman in America!" 
Del. Angelia Williams Graves (D-Norfolk)

The Supreme Court is currently made up of six justices who were appointed by Republican presidents. The three other justices, who would dissent on such an opinion, were appointed by presidents representing the Democratic Party.