In an unprecedented leak, Politico on Monday night published what it said was a draft opinion indicating the Supreme Court would overturn the constitutional right to abortion enshrined nearly 50 years ago in Roe v. Wade.
The document, reportedly written by Justice Samuel Alito and circulated in February, suggests that at least five justices side with Mississippi in a case pending before the court challenging the landmark 1973 abortion ruling.
The court's final decision in that case could come in late June or early July, and it is possible that the justices’ final votes and the decision may change.
During oral arguments in December, the court's 6-3 conservative majority appeared poised to uphold Mississippi's law banning nearly all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The court’s three liberal justices warned at the time that revoking abortion rights nationwide would paint the high court as a political body.
Advocacy groups on both sides of the abortion rights debate reacted Monday night to news of the draft opinion.
“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," said Alexis McGill Johnson, the president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
"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.”
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, which supports ending abortion, said the organization would "wholeheartedly applaud the decision" if the reported leak is the final opinion of the court.
“The American people have the right to act through their elected officials to debate and enact laws that protect unborn children and honor women,” she said. “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.
Overturning Roe v. Wade has been the primary goal of anti-abortion rights groups for decades, and the leaked opinion is expected to put immense pressure on congressional Democrats to take some kind of action to protect abortion rights as a growing number of states enact laws curtailing abortion access.
However, Senate rules requiring 60 votes for most legislation to advance in the evenly split chamber have prevented Democrats from getting a bill to President Joe Biden's desk that would codify Roe v. Wade.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said late Monday that elected officials should codify the law through legislation immediately — or end the filibuster in the Senate if there aren’t enough votes to pass it.
A crowd of protesters gathered outside the Supreme Court, chanting “abortion is health care,” while some carried signs with slogans like “legal abortion once and for all” and “we won’t go back,” videos and photos showed.