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'SNL' envisions abortion debate hundreds of years ago

In the cold open, host Benedict Cumberbatch imagines a law so forward thinking that people will one day say, "No need to update this one … They nailed it back in 1235.”
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In the leaked Supreme Court majority draft opinion, Justice Samuel Alito writes that “an unbroken tradition of prohibiting abortion on pain of criminal punishment persisted from the earliest days of the common law.”

"Saturday Night Live" put that argument in a time machine and started the cold open with a discussion among three men from centuries' past, played by host Benedict Cumberbatch and cast members Andrew Dismukes and James Austin Johnson.

"Don't you think we ought to make a law against it?" said the one played by Cumberbatch.

He envisioned a law so forward thinking that people in the future would one day say, "No need to update this one … They nailed it back in 1235."

As the three tossed around abortion, pro and con, one of the serfs said, "We can decide it on a fiefdom by fiefdom basis."

Dismukes' character objected, however, because the rule seemed incomplete. "How will we punish the mother?" he said.

"Let her sail off the edge of the world," Cumberbatch said.

Amid the discussion the characters established that, in their time, the Catholic church was trusted "with all our money and our children," and that Plan B exists, even back then, but in the form of "letting all the bees sting you."

A character played by Cecily Strong tried to weigh in, but she was rebuffed by the men.

"Don't make us make another hole in your skull so your brain can breathe," Cumberbatch said.

One of the men said exceptions for rape or incest should be included in any law outlawing abortion.

"But those are the only kinds of sex," Johnson said, objecting.

Kate McKinnon appeared as a character who can see the future — to a time when there will be progress and then some will try to undo the progress, she said.

"No matter how many choices they take away from women, we've always got the choice to keep fighting," McKinnon said.

"You’re a witch, and we're going to set you on fire," Cumberbatch responded.

News segment Weekend Update continued to hammer the conservative members of the Supreme Court following the Monday night leak reported by Politico that suggested the high court could overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide. The court has said the draft is not final.

"Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, whether you wanted to be one or not," co-host Colin Jost said.

He suggested the draft was essentially the rant of a 72-year-old, Alito, who should have made it where people his age do such things — Facebook.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett (McKinnon) joined the segment and said outlawing abortion would not change the lives of those with unwanted pregnancies.

"You can leave a baby anywhere in the Untied States," she said, referring to "safe surrender" laws that allow parents to leave newborns at fire stations and other government locations without legal repercussions.

"What’s the big deal," she said. "Just pop it. ... Leave it on the sidewalk."

NBC's "Saturday Night Live" and NBC News are a part of NBCUniversal Networks.