WASHINGTON (AP) — A draft opinion, leaked to Politico, suggests the U.S. Supreme Court could be poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide. Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the validity of the draft on Tuesday but said it does not necessarily reflect the final decision of the court.
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.
A crowd of people gathered outside the Supreme Court after news of the draft opinion began spreading Monday night.
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.
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.
Republican Sen. Susan Collins appeared surprised by the opinion.
“If this leaked draft opinion is the final decision and this reporting is accurate, it would be completely inconsistent with what Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh said in their hearings and in our meetings in my office," Collins said in a statement.
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.
Michael Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, and Kellie Copeland, executive director of Pro-Choice Ohio, agreed it was outrageous that a Supreme Court draft opinion was leaked.
Not surprisingly though, their opinions were drastically different when it came to the possibility of the landmark case being reversed.
"We believe in the inherent right of all people, whether you're black, white, male, female, gay, straight— everyone has an inherent right to life and we believe that by overturning Roe v. Wade, every life will be protected and that's the right thing to do," Gonidakis said.
"This is an extremist agenda, a callous and heartless agenda, one that will certainly be life-changing, landscape-changing," Copeland said. "Women and trans and non-binary people all need access to abortion because it's a fundamental right to be able to control your body."