The case in question, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, was argued before the court in Dec. 2021. The case involves a Mississippi law restricting most abortions after 15 weeks and centers on the question of “Whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional,” or whether states can ban abortion before a fetus can survive outside the womb.
In Roe v. Wade, the court ruled that states could not ban abortion before viability, which the court determined to be 24 to 28 weeks into pregnancy. In 1992, the court largely upheld Roe in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. If Roe is ultimately overturned, as the draft suggests, abortion law would be left up to each individual state.
If the draft is genuine, this marks the first time in the court’s modern history that a draft opinion of the court has been leaked while the case is still pending, Politico notes. SCOTUSblog, a popular site that reports on the Supreme Court, tweeted that the draft is “almost certainly an authentic draft opinion” and that its leakage constituted an “unforgivable sin.”
“The document leaked to Politico is almost certainly an authentic draft opinion by J. Alito that reflects what he believes at least 5 members of the Court have voted to support — overruling Roe. But as Alito’s draft, it does not reflect the comments or reactions of other Justices,” SCOTUSblog tweeted.
“It’s impossible to overstate the earthquake this will cause inside the Court, in terms of the destruction of trust among the Justices and staff. This leak is the gravest, most unforgivable sin.”
Some pro-life leaders reacted cautiously to the Politico report, while many reaffirmed their condemnation of Roe and their hope that the ultimate decision reflects what is in the draft.
The pro-life group SBA List said “If the draft opinion made public tonight is the final opinion of the court, we wholeheartedly applaud the decision.”
“The American people have the right to act through their elected officials to debate and enact laws that protect unborn children and honor women,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser in a statement.
“If Roe is indeed overturned, our job will be to build consensus for the strongest protections possible for unborn children and women in every legislature.
“We also recognize the need for the pro-life movement to continue its existing work to support pregnant women and children in need. There are thousands of pro-life pregnancy centers and maternity homes nationwide and an ever-growing pro-life safety net. The pro-life movement will continue to grow to meet the needs of these women and their families, walking and planning with them to love and serve both mother and child.”
On Twitter, reporters noted that barricades went up around the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., immediately after the news broke.
Georgetown student Gabe Fleisher, author of the Wake Up To Politics newsletter, tweeted, “Two police officers are standing watch as a crowd of about 50 has gathered, most sitting quietly with candles.”