Nation reacts to leaked draft Supreme Court decision that could overturn Roe v. Wade

Politicians and organizations from both sides of the aisle are speaking out.

May 3, 2022, 10:22 AM

Politicians and organizations are reacting to an unprecedented leaked draft opinion suggesting the U.S. Supreme Court could be poised to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide nearly 50 years ago.

While some conservatives were quick to praise the draft opinion, many liberals decried it and people on both sides criticized the extraordinary breach of the covert deliberation process of the nation's highest court.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., issued a joint statement late Monday, warning: "If the report is accurate, the Supreme Court is poised to inflict the greatest restriction of rights in the past fifty years -- not just on women but on all Americans." Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., however, had not commented as of Tuesday morning.

The 98-page document, obtained by Politico and published online Monday night, was dated Feb. 10, 2022, and labeled a "1st Draft" of the "Opinion of the Court" in a case known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, which is challenging Mississippi's ban on abortion after 15 weeks.

Politico said it received "a copy of the draft opinion from a person familiar with the court’s proceedings in the Mississippi case along with other details supporting the authenticity of the document." ABC News has not independently confirmed the draft. A Supreme Court spokeswoman declined to comment.

A view of the U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C., on May 03, 2022.
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The draft opinion, apparently written by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., appears to show the court's conservative majority voted to strike down the 1973 ruling on Roe v. Wade as well as a subsequent decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. That 1992 case upheld Roe's finding of a constitutional right to abortion services but allowed states to impose some restrictions on the controversial practice. The immediate impact of the ruling as drafted would be to end the federally guaranteed right to abortion and effectively allow each state to decide whether to restrict or outright ban it, according to Politico.

"Roe was egregiously wrong from the start," Alito appeared to write in the draft opinion.

"We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled," he added. "It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people's elected representatives."

In the wake of the Politico report and the rare leak, elected officials from both sides of the aisle are speaking out.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., along with a number of congressional Democrats, including Sens. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Patty Murray, D-Wash., as well as Reps. Peter Welch, D-Vt., and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., all called for Congress to codify Roe v. Wade into law, even if that meant eliminating the filibuster.

Gubernatorial Democrats from California to Maine vowed to protect abortion rights in their respective states.

While the co-chairs of the House Pro-Life Caucus had not commented as of Tuesday morning, the leaders of the House Pro-Choice Caucus, Reps. Diana DeGette (D-Co.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), released a joint statement, saying: "Such a move would be an unconscionable rollback of a fundamental right and would have devastating impacts throughout the country."

Some Republicans, including Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.), condemned the leak as an attempt to "intimidate" the court, while others, such as Reps. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-Ga.), Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), hailed the draft opinion.

Gubernatorial Republicans in Alabama, Arkansas and South Dakota expressed their hope that Roe v. Wade would in fact be overturned.

Meanwhile, anti-abortion organizations March for Life and Susan B Anthony List are withholding comment until the final decision is announced; though the latter noted that it would "wholeheartedly applaud the decision" if the leaked draft opinion was the final opinion.

Abortion-rights organizations Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America emphasized that the leaked draft opinion "is not final" and "abortion is still legal."