Supreme Court draft threatens to strike down abortion protections


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FOLLOWING A LEAKED SUPREME Court decision on May 2 that threatened abortion rights, pro- choice protests have erupted around the nation. There are many calls for Democrats to codify Roe v. Wade, the historic 1973 decision that ruled abortion bans unconstituional, into law.

Kira Ratan, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus

The United States Supreme Court has voted to overturn the historic 1973 Roe V. Wade decision that gave constitutional protection to a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion. The initial draft majority opinion was written by Justice Samuel Alito and leaked to media company Politico on May 2. 

Though the Court’s decision is not final until it is published, which will most likely be in the next few months, the implications of the decision are extensive. The ruling would effectively end federal protection of a woman’s right to a safe abortion and empower states to create their own specific laws on abortion. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 26 states have preliminary laws and/or amendments in place to ban abortion if Roe V. Wade is overturned. 

The Roe V. Wade decision, made on Jan. 22, 1973, ruled that a state law banning abortion was unconstitutional under the 14th amendment after Norma McCorvey, under the alias Jane Roe, tried to have an illegal abortion but was stopped by Texas authorities, and subsequently sued the state. The basis of the decision drew on the “zones of privacy” the United States Constitution was obligated to protect.

In the 98-page initial draft document, Judge Alito wrote, “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. 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.”

Along with Alito, four of the other right-wing Justices have endorsed the draft opinion, and three of the left-wing Justices are drawing up their dissents. Chief Justice John Roberts has not made a decision to vote one way or the other, yet, and after the leak said that the draft was in no way a final decision from the Court. New Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was not a part of the draft opinion, as former Justice Stephen Breyer had not stepped down when the matter was discussed.

The decision has already garnered significant outcries from the country’s left-leaning activists. In a poll conducted by NPR, 64% of Americans are in opposition to the strikedown of Roe V. Wade, as of May 19, 2022. Though, roughly 70% of American adults are in favor of some level of restriction on abortion, including 52% of democrats. The decision has prompted democrats, particularly, to mobilize as local elections take place and with larger elections around the corner. The poll indicated that around two-thirds of democrats said that the contents of the leaked draft opinion make them more likely to vote in November. 

After the draft was leaked, protesters were outside the Supreme Court within hours, and demonstrations across the country followed for the rest of the week. Sophomore Madi Brown has been an outspoken advocate for women’s rights, and said she felt “terrible” after the draft opinion was leaked. She has spent the last two weeks compiling resources and educational materials on abortion rights that she hopes to share with the Masters community. 

“There is always a way to help. This isn’t a cause where you can just throw money at it, but there are so many places that need volunteers and help,” Brown said.

There is always a way to help.

— Madi Brown '24

Planned Parenthood has been a hub of resources and outreach in favor of the right to a safe abortion, and their team has been very vocal ever since the possibility of Roe V. Wade getting struck down came to a head. Planned Parenthood has been an organization at the forefront of lobbying efforts in favor of pro-choice legislation on the federal and state levels.

In a press release the day after the draft opinion was leaked, CEO of Planned Parenthood Joy D. Calloway said, “This is not simply a draft of a devastating and politically motivated Supreme Court opinion, it is a roadmap for dismantling our fundamental right to safe, legal abortion, a right codified nearly fifty years ago.” 


Note: The survey, mentioned above, of 1,304 adults, including 1,213 registered voters, has a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percentage points when adults are referenced and +/- 4.1 percentage points when referring to voters.