The U.S. Supreme Court appears ready to vote to overturn the 1973 Rowe v. Wade ruling, which legalized abortion across the country.
Only today’s publication of a version of the draft opinion of the majority of supreme judges, published by Politico, could provoke a wave of protests, Reuters commented.
Anti-abortion activists and abortion rights activists took to the streets of Washington on Tuesday shortly after the news. A 2021 study by the Pew Research Center found that 59% of adults in the United States believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared to 39% who disagree.
It is also an unprecedented leak of information from the Conservative-dominated Supreme Court, an institution that prides itself on keeping its internal deliberations a secret, and leaking information is extremely unusual. Politico also showed a photo of the document as an assurance that it was authentic. The Supreme Court and the White House have so far declined to comment.
“Rowe is extremely wrong from the start,” conservative Judge Samuel Alito wrote in a draft opinion dated Feb. 10. Based on Alito’s opinion, the court will find that the Rowe v. from pregnancy (the period in which the fetus can not survive outside the womb) – was wrong, because the US Constitution does not explicitly mention the right to abortion.
“Abortion is a deeply moral issue. The constitution does not prohibit citizens of every state from regulating or banning abortion,” Alito said, according to the leaked document.
The right to abortion has been one of the most contentious issues in US politics for nearly half a century. The news came just over six months before the midterm elections, which will determine whether Democrats will retain a majority in the US Congress for the next two years of President Joe Biden’s term.
“This decision is a direct violation of the dignity, rights, and lives of women, not to mention a law established for decades,” said former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “It will kill and subjugate women even when the vast majority of Americans think abortion should be legal. What a disgrace.”
Republican Sen. Tom Cotton commented: “… Rowe was an extremely wrong decision from the beginning, and I pray that the court will follow the constitution and allow the states to protect unborn life again.”
Four of the other Republican-appointed judges, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Cavanaugh, and Amy Connie Barrett, voted in favor of Alito’s position in a preliminary review of the distribution of votes in the nine-member court. After an oral discussion, followed by an initial vote among the judges, one of them is assigned the opinion of the majority and formed into a draft. It is then distributed to judges.
Sometimes, between the initial vote and the distribution of the final decision, the order of the votes may change. The decision is final only when it is published by the court.
The 6-3-conservative court heard oral arguments in December about Mississippi’s attempt to renew the abortion ban, which begins after the 15th week of pregnancy, a law blocked by lower courts.
The Rowe v. Wade ruling recognizes that the right to privacy under the US Constitution protects women from deciding to terminate their pregnancies. Christian conservatives and many Republican officials have long sought to repeal it. In a 1992 ruling called “Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey,” the Supreme Court reaffirmed abortion rights and banned laws imposing “unnecessary burdens” on access to abortion. Mississippi asked the judges to overturn both decisions, and Alito’s draft opinion largely accepted the Republican state’s arguments.
If the Rowe v. Wade ruling is overturned, abortion is likely to remain legal in liberal governments. More than a dozen U.S. states currently have abortion rights laws. Many Republican-led states have passed various restrictions on abortion, contrary to Rowe in recent years.
Republicans could try to introduce a national abortion ban, while Democrats could also seek to protect abortion rights nationally.
Democrats said the draft opinion only shows the importance of this year’s election, in which they seek to retain control of the House of Representatives and the Senate. “We need to vote as we have never voted before,” Democrat spokeswoman Jamie Ruskin told MSNBC. “People need to stand up and defend democratic institutions and people’s rights because the Supreme Court is certainly not doing anything for us.
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