The Supreme Court will strike down Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, according to an initial draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito that was leaked and initially published in a report by Politico.
In December, after hearing oral arguments on a case between the state of Mississippi and an abortion healthcare provider, Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett (all Republican appointees) voted with Alito to repeal the landmark pieces of abortion legislation, said an unnamed source “familiar with the court’s deliberations,” according to Politico.
In 98 pages, the draft opinion includes some startling language to argue against the continuance of Roe and Casey, which in some ways reads like a dismissal of the Supreme Court itself. “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak,” wrote Alito in the majority opinion.
“The inescapable conclusion is that a right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation’s histories and traditions,” he further wrote. However, considering what legal protects are and aren’t “deeply rooted in the Nation’s histories and traditions,” can quickly become a disturbing mental exercise. For instance, the U.S. is not exactly a country with a deeply rooted history or a tradition of human rights for Indigenous and Black people.
If the final ruling contains similar language and reasoning to the draft, some experts have voiced concern about what that could mean for other rights. Previously, Justice Sonya Sotomayor has said such a ruling would imperil other constitutional rights settled based on “the right to privacy,” like same-sex marriage, the use of contraception, and the end of criminalized “sodomy,” according to a report by Bloomberg Law.
The draft ruling is, of course, not final, and for the time being, nothing changes about a person’s right to access abortion care nationwide. However, the leaked draft is big news that could portend a massive loss of abortion access for millions of people.
At least 13 states have outright “trigger laws” that would ban abortion statewide upon the official repeal of Roe. And 13 more states have pre-Roe bans, post-six-week abortion bans, or the political will to otherwise heavily restrict or outright ban abortion access, according to a 2021 analysis by the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health non-profit.
Because Gizmodo is an outlet predominantly covering technology and culture, here is how Bill Gates reacted to the news. “I was shocked to wake up to the news this morning. A reversal of Roe v. Wade would set us back 50 years and disproportionately impact the most vulnerable women in society. I support a woman’s right to make her own decisions about their health care,” he wrote in a tweet.
On a very different note, here is what South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem tweeted following the news. South Dakota lawmakers have notoriously worked to make it one of the most difficult states to access abortion care in, even with Roe in place. “If this report is true and Roe v. Wade is overturned, I will immediately call for special session to save lives and guarantee that every unborn child has a right to life in South Dakota,” wrote Noem.
Seth MacFarlane, actor and creator of Family Guy and other television shows, suggests we can resolve this by voting. “As the staggeringly partisan, right-wing-dominated SCOTUS nudges America closer to Handmaids Tale status, the importance of voting in EVERY election becomes more obvious. One would hope today’s news erases any further delusions that “both parties are pretty much the same,” he wrote in a tweet.
Though, it’s important to note that currently Democrats, who have generally run on platforms of protecting Roe v. Wade, already control the presidency and have the majority in both the House and Senate.
So, here is what Congressional Representative Cori Bush said online about how Democrats might be able to wield that power. “Abolish the filibuster. Codify Roe. Expand the Supreme Court. Protect abortion rights by any means necessary. We need all of the above. This is an emergency,” the congresswoman tweeted.
Abolishing the filibuster will likely be an uphill battle. But according to U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, the Senate will at least vote on whether or not to enshrine the right to abortion access into law. “The Senate will hold a vote on legislation to codify the right to an abortion in law. This is not an abstract exercise. This is urgent. We will vote on protected a women’s right to choose, and every American is going to see which side every senator stands on,” Schumer wrote.
Just a couple of months ago, Senate Republicans (and Democrat Joe Manchin) blocked the passage of the closely related but more far-reaching “Women’s Health Protection Act.” However, a vote to codify the contents of Roe alone could be more likely to garner key supporting votes from Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski.
Update 5/3/2022, 11:50 a.m. ET: This post has been updated with an additional tweet from Chuck Schumer and related content.