The US Supreme Court could be about to overturn the nationwide legal right to abortion, according to a leaked document.
Millions have been left stunned after a document labelled ‘Opinion of the Court’ allegedly showed a majority of the court’s justices backed striking down Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 case that legalised the procedure.
The document, reportedly created earlier this year, essentially states there is no constitutional right to abortion services and would allow individual states to more heavily regulate or outright ban the termination of pregnancies.
It is unclear if the draft opinion would mark the court’s final word on the issue and a Supreme Court spokeswoman refused to comment.
Political news outlet first published the paper, although Metro.co.uk was unable to verify its authenticity.
Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has warned, if true, it would be a ‘direct assault on the dignity, rights, and lives of women, not to mention decades of settled law’.
‘It will kill and subjugate women even as a vast majority of Americans think abortion should be legal’, she said. ‘What an utter disgrace.’
The draft opinion was said to be made in reference to a case named Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organisation, which challenges Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks.
Seven key passages from the draft opinion
- ‘We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision….’
- ‘Far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division. It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.’
- ‘The inescapable conclusion is that a right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and traditions. On the contrary, an unbroken tradition of prohibiting abortion on pain of criminal punishment persisted from the earliest days of the common law until 1973.’
- ‘It has been said that it is sometimes more important that an issue ‘be settled than that it be settled right.’ But when it comes to the interpretation of the Constitution — the ‘great charter of our liberties,’ which was meant ‘to endure through a long lapse of ages,’ we place a high value on having the matter “settled right.”’
- ‘On many other occasions, this Court has overruled important constitutional decisions. … Without these decisions, American constitutional law as we know it would be unrecognizable, and this would be a different country.’
- ‘The Court short-circuited the democratic process by closing it to the large number of Americans who dissented in any respect from Roe.’
- ‘We do not pretend to know how our political system or society will respond to today’s decision overruling Roe and Casey. And even if we could foresee what will happen, we would have no authority to let that knowledge influence our decision.’
‘Roe was egregiously wrong from the start’, it reads. ‘We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled.’
It goes on to reference the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v Casey which affirmed Roe’s finding of a constitutional right to abortion services, but allowed states to place some constraints on the practice.
The document adds: ’It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.’
The Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organisation before its term is up in late June or early July.
In a joint statement Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said: ‘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.
‘The Republican-appointed Justices’ reported votes to overturn Roe v. Wade would go down as an abomination, one of the worst and most damaging decisions in modern history.’
Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood said the ‘report makes it clear our deepest fears are coming true’.
‘We have reached a crisis moment for abortion access. We don’t have a moment to spare – we must act now’, the reproductive health organisation said.
The draft opinion is reportedly signed by Justice Samuel Alito, a member of the court’s 6-3 conservative majority, who was appointed by former President George W Bush.
Judges have been known to change their minds during the drafting process.
Politico claimed it had been given ‘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’.
For more stories like this, .