In what seems like an extreme breach in protocol, the US Supreme Court has privately voted to strike down the landmark Roe V Wade decision that has guaranteed the right to abortion for nearly 50 years, according to a leaked draft opinion published on Monday, 2 May, by Politico.
According to Politico, the draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito Jr states that a majority of the court voted to overturn Roe V Wade. The document labeled “Opinion of the Court” reads “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” and that “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
It is important to note that draft opinions often change by the time a decision from the court is announced but the leak is significant because early drafts of an opinion have never leaked before and the issue of abortion has been one of the most contentious topics in the United States.
And minutes after the leaked opinion was published online, protests ensued outside the Supreme Court, according to ANI.
Reacting to the report, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a joint statement said that “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."
What is Roe v Wade?
It is a landmark US Supreme Court decision from 1973 that established a constitutional right to abortion. The case struck down abortion laws in several states, declaring that a state cannot ban abortion before the point at which a fetus can survive outside the womb.
The case is colloquially refereed as “Roe”, the plaintiffs listen name, which was pseudonym for Norma McCorvey. The name “Wade” refers to the defendant Henry Wade, who was a Dallas County district attorney at that time.
Roe has been a popular decision, with polls held by both Gallup and Pew showing that a majority of Americans, 60 to 70 percent, say that they do not want to overturn Roe.
However, even as most people support the ruling, most also say they favour restrictions that Roe does not permit, according to data collected by Gallup. According to Gallup, American’s support for abortion varies when they are asked to evaluate it on a trimester basis. This, according to Gallup, is a consistent opinion for over 20 years.
“Six in 10 US adults think abortion should generally be legal in the first three months of pregnancy. However, support drops by about half, to 28 percent, for abortions conducted in the second three months, and by half again, to 13 percent, in the final three months,” reads a Gallup report.
(With inputs from Washington Post, New York Times, Politico, Gallup)