The Supreme Court has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, according to an initial draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito, disseminated inside the court, and obtained by Politico. The website describes the document as a “full-throated, unflinching repudiation” of both the 1973 decision giving federal constitutional protection to abortion rights and also to the follow-up 1992 decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, that cemented it.
“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Alito writes in the 98-page document titled “Opinion of the Court.”
“Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.”
Elsewhere in his opinion, Alito states, “Roe expressed the ‘feel[ing]’ that the Fourteenth Amendment was the provision that did the work, but its message seemed to be that the abortion right could be found somewhere in the Constitution and that specifying its exact location was not of paramount importance.”
He also describes in several passages the doctors and nurses who perform abortions as “abortionists.”
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Alito continued. “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
The document also includes a notation that it was circulated among the justices on Feb. 10, Politico notes.
If the Alito draft is adopted, it would rule in favor of Mississippi in Dobbs v. Jackson’s Women Health, allowing that state to ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The impact of the ruling as drafted would mean the end of federal constitutional protection of voting rights and would instead leave it up to the states whether to allow, ban, or restrict abortion. At least 26 states plan to ban abortion outright if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Alexis McGill Johnson, the CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement Monday, “Let’s be clear: Abortion is legal. It is still your right. This leaked opinion is horrifying and unprecedented, and it confirms our worst fears: that the Supreme Court is prepared to end the constitutional right to abortion by overturning Roe v. Wade.”
McGill continued, “While we have seen the writing on the wall for decades, it is no less devastating, and comes just as anti-abortion rights groups unveil their ultimate plan to ban abortion nationwide.
“Understand that Planned Parenthood and our partners have been preparing for every possible outcome in this case and are built for the fight. Planned Parenthood health centers remain open, abortion is currently still legal, and we will continue to fight like hell to protect the right to access safe, legal abortion.”
According to Politico, a source familiar with the court said that the four Republican-appointed justices besides Alito—Thomas, Gorusuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett—had voted with Alito. The three Democratic-appointed justices—Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayer—are forming their dissents, according to the source. Chief Justice Robert’s vote is unclear.
The court’s decision is not final. Justices can switch their votes, and their final conclusion will be published sometime in the next two months.
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