Roe v Wade US abortion law to be overturned, leaked court decision suggests
Washington: A leaked initial draft majority opinion suggests the US Supreme Court has voted to overturn the Roe v Wade decision that legalised abortion nationwide, Politico reported.
Reuters could not immediately confirm the draft independently.
“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the draft opinion, according to Politico on Monday Washington-time.
A leak from the Supreme Court is unprecedented. APnone
Four of the other Republican-appointed justices – Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett - voted with Alito in the conference held among the justices, the report added.
“It is possible there have been some changes since then (Feb 10),“ Politico reporter Josh Gerstein, who broke the story, said on MSNBC late on Monday Washington time.
Associate Justice Samuel Alito last year.APnone
The draft report leaked to Politico does not say that abortion should be banned nationwide, but instead argues that the Constitution does not prohibit states from regulating or prohibiting abortion.
Overturning Roe v Wade would empower several Southern and Midwestern states to impose strict abortion bans - although it would not block states from choosing to allow the procedure.
After an initial vote among the justices following the oral argument, one is assigned the majority opinion and writes a draft.
It is then circulated among the justices. At times, in between the initial vote and the ruling being released, the vote alignment can change.
A ruling is only final when it is published by the court.
In a post on Twitter, Neal Katyal, a lawyer who regularly argues before the court, said if the report was accurate it would be “the first major leak from the Supreme Court ever”.
Politico said only that it received “a copy of the draft opinion from a person familiar with the court’s proceedings in the Mississippi case along with other details supporting the authenticity of the document.”
The landmark Roe v Wade decision almost 50 years ago gave women in the US the right to seek an abortion but it has been disputed and contested many times over the years.
In that time abortion has emerged a central issue in American politics, dividing progressives - which typically supports a woman’s right to choose - from conservatives, which equate the procedure to a crime. Importantly, it has also served as a galvanising issue for religious voters courted by Republicans.
In 1973, the Supreme Court handed down the landmark decision that Texas did not have a constitutional right to restrict Norma McCorvey - assigned the court pseudonym Jane Roe- from having an abortion, although the procedure was illegal in the state at the time unless the mother’s life was in danger.
Republican governors in several states have sought to reintroduce abortion bans and restrictions - notably Texas, which has sought to ban terminations as soon as foetal activity can be detected. Like many states, it has passed a “trigger law” enforcing its abortion bans if Roe v Wade is officially overturned by the Supreme Court.
If the court does overturn Roe, twenty-six states would ban or severely restrict abortion.
A group of Republican senators have been lobbying to introduce a nationwide ban, according to The Washington Post, which reported that the antiabortion group Susan B Anthony List had approached 10 possible presidential candidates including Donald Trump to discuss the possibility.
However, a nationwide abortion ban would be difficult to pass, as it would require 60 votes in the Senate, and would be opposed by almost all Democrats and some pro-choice Republicans.
President Joe Biden, while a Catholic, is pro-choice and would likely oppose signing such a bill into law.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, said on Twitter that New York will “always guarantee” the right to abortion.
“This is an absolutely disgraceful attack on our fundamental right to choose, and we will fight it with everything we’ve got,” Hochul said on Twitter in a reaction to Politico’s report.
Reuters, AP, staff writers