WASHINGTON — A majority of the U.S. Supreme Court has voted to overturn the landmark 1973 ruling Roe v. Wade that established the right to abortion nearly 50 years ago, according to a leaked draft opinion published by Politico on Monday.
National Public Radio could not immediately confirm the authenticity of the draft Politico published.
The draft was written by Justice Samuel Alito and circulated in February, according to the Politico report. The report said that Alito was joined by justices Clarence Thomas and all three of former President Donald Trump’s nominees – Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. Politico reported that justices Stephen Breyer, Elana Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor were working on dissents. It was unclear how Chief Justice John Roberts voted.
Roe v. Wade established a constitutional right to abortion in 1973. Although abortion rights looked to be in peril after arguments at the court late last year, it was unclear whether the justices would merely hollow out Roe or indeed strike it down. It now appears they have done the latter, though, as the Politico report itself noted, the leaked majority opinion was a draft that could still change.
In the 98-page draft, Alito said Roe was wrongly decided, saying the issue should be decided by politicians, not courts. If Roe is reversed, it would not federally outlaw abortion. However, it would shift the power to states to decide on the procedure’s legality.
Twenty-one states are poised to immediately ban or acutely curtail access to abortions if the Supreme Court chooses to overturn or weaken Roe v. Wade, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group in favor of abortion rights.
Reactions to the report, however, were swift. Within hours after the Politico report published, demonstrators assembled outside the Supreme Court early on Tuesday, many calling for the preservation of the 1973 law.
Several governors issued statements following the news. Here’s what they said:
“This unprecedented leak is concerning, outrageous and a blatant attempt to manipulate the sacred procedures of the U.S. Supreme Court. Those responsible should be held accountable. My prayer is that Roe v. Wade is overturned and that life prevails,” said Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican.
“I have advocated for the reversal of Roe v. Wade all my political career. The leak from someone within the court is reprehensible and should lead to an investigation but I do hope the court returns authority to the states,” said Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
“Our daughters, sisters, mothers, and grandmothers will not be silenced. The world is about to hear their fury,” said California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat. “California will not sit back. We are going to fight like hell.
“In light of the reported decision of the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, CO remains a state where freedom is respected and where any person has the ability to live, work, thrive, and raise a family on their own terms,” said Democratic Colorado Gov. Jared Polis.
He added: “While states like Texas, Florida and Arizona are engaging in the unwelcome intrusion of government into deeply personal and religious decisions, Colorado remains a refuge where any person has the ability to live, work, thrive, and raise a family on their own terms.”
“Our state continues to take the steps necessary to protect and expand reproductive rights,” said Democratic Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont. “Tonight [Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz] and I say it louder and with more resolve than ever before, we will do everything in our power to defend abortion rights in Connecticut.”
“Hell no! In Illinois, we trust women. We cannot let their most profound and personal rights be violated,” said Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, a Democrat.
“I want to be very clear: unlike an apparent majority of the Supreme Court, I do not consider the rights of women to be dispensable.” said Maine Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat. “As long as I am Governor, I will fight with everything I have to protect reproductive rights and to preserve access to reproductive health care.”
“Our work is more important than ever. I’ll fight like hell to protect abortion access in Michigan,” said Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
“Not on my watch,” said Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat.
“In Nevada, we’re committed to protecting reproductive rights – I’ve signed legislation affirming this right and expanding access to healthcare,” said Democratic Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak. “And as long as I’m Governor, I’ll continue to do so.”
“I want to assure every New Jerseyan that today’s news about the Supreme Court does not change access to abortion in our state,” said New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat. “Access to reproductive health care remains available to anyone who needs it in New Jersey.”
“The ramifications of this decision would be devastating for New Mexico women,” said Democratic New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. “Today and every day, the action we’ve taken to protect and expand abortion rights in New Mexico is more important than ever. Access to abortion is access to health care – and that won’t change here.”
“I refuse to let my new granddaughter have to fight for the rights that generations have fought for & won, rights that she should be guaranteed,” said Democratic New York Gov. Kathy Hochul. “For anyone who needs access to care, our state will welcome you with open arms. Abortion will always be safe & accessible in New York.”
“Now more than ever, governors and state legislatures must stand up for women’s healthcare. We know the stakes and must stand firm to protect a woman’s choice and access to medical care,” said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat.
“All Americans should have access to abortion –– full stop. Abortion is health care and protected by state law in Oregon. We will fight to keep it that way, no matter what this Supreme Court decides,” said Democratic Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.
“Abortion is and will remain legal in Pennsylvania,” said Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf. “3 things to keep in mind: 1) An official ruling has not yet been made. 2) Once #SCOTUS does rule, it’s up to states to pass legislation to change abortion laws. 3) I’ll veto any anti-choice legislation that lands on my desk.”
“Here in Rhode Island, we will always protect a woman’s right to choose,” said Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee, a Democrat. “We will NOT go backwards on reproductive rights.”
“If this report is true and Roe v. Wade is overturned, I will immediately call for a special session to save lives and guarantee that every unborn child has a right to life in South Dakota,” said Republican South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.
“NOT HERE, NOT IN OUR LIFETIME,” said Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat. “Washington is and will remain pro-choice. And we will not slow down in the fight to ensure safe, affordable access to every person who needs it.”
“Our work to defend access to reproductive healthcare has never been more important,” said Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers. “Before I became governor, I promised I’d fight to protect access to abortion and reproductive rights. I’ve kept that promise, and I will fight every day as long as I’m governor.”