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Leaked draft shows US court set to strike down abortion rights: Politico

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Abortion activist gather at the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on May 2, 2022./AFP
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May 03, 2022 - 04:36 AM

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court is poised to strike down the right to abortion in the United States, according to a leaked draft of a majority opinion that would shred nearly 50 years of constitutional protections.

The draft, obtained by Politico, was written by Justice Samuel Alito, and has been circulated inside the conservative-dominated court, the news outlet reported.

The 98-page draft majority opinion calls the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade decision enshrining the right to abortion “egregiously wrong from the start.”

“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Alito writes in the document, labeled as the “Opinion of the Court” and published on Politico’s website. “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

In Roe v. Wade, the nation’s highest court held that access to abortion is a woman’s constitutional right.

In a 1992 ruling, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the court guaranteed a woman’s right to an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, which is typically around 22 to 24 weeks of gestation.

“The inescapable conclusion is that a right to an abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and traditions,” Alito wrote.

Reproductive rights have been increasingly under threat in the United States in recent months as states have moved to tighten restrictions with some seeking to ban all abortions after six weeks, before many women even know they are pregnant.

Right-wing politicians have launched an assault on abortion, with Democrats, led by President Joe Biden, fighting back to protect access to the procedure.

In December, hearing oral arguments about a Mississippi law that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority appeared inclined to not only uphold the law but to toss out Roe v. Wade.

‘Crisis moment’ 

The nine-member court, dominated by conservatives following the nomination of three justices by former president Donald Trump, is expected to issue a decision in the Mississippi case by June.

Politico, citing a person familiar with the court’s deliberations, said four other conservative justices — Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — had voted with Alito, the author of the first draft of the majority opinion.

It said the three liberal justices on the court were working on a dissent and it was unknown how Chief Justice John Roberts would ultimately vote.

Politico stressed that the document it obtained is a draft and justices do sometimes change their votes before a final ruling.

The leak of the draft opinion is extraordinary while a case is still being decided. Politico said it was the first time in modern history that a draft opinion had been disclosed publicly.

Asked about the draft being circulated, a Supreme Court spokeswoman said: “The Court has no comment.”

The Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice research group, has said that 26 states are “certain or likely” to ban abortion if the Roe is overturned.

States that decide to do so could still legally allow abortion even if the court overturns Roe v Wade.

Planned Parenthood, which operates abortion clinics around the country, said the draft opinion is “outrageous” but cautioned that it “is not final.”

“Abortion is your right — and it is STILL LEGAL,” Planned Parenthood said in a tweet.

“While abortion is still legal, tonight’s report makes clear that our deepest fears are coming true,” it added. “We have reached a crisis moment for abortion access.”

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