A leaked Supreme Court majority opinion has the Court overturning the landmark case. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images
A leaked Supreme Court majority opinion has the Court overturning the landmark case. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Supreme Court leak: Roe v. Wade overturned

This is the first time in modern history that a ruling has leaked before the court issued it publicly.


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On Monday, May 2, POLITICO published a leaked draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito, revealing that the Supreme Court has voted to overturn the landmark Roe V. Wade ruling.

The draft is a powerful, staunch rejection of 1973 decision which guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights and a subsequent 1992 decision – Planned Parenthood v. Casey – that largely maintained the right.

Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives,” Alito writes in a documented labeled 'Opinion of the Court.'

If this is how the court ultimately rules, the procedure would immediately become illegal in at least 13 states, and more are likely to follow. New restrictions in GOP-led states would make abortion difficult to obtain even in many places where it may remain technically legal. 

Pregnant people in some parts of the country, especially in the South, would have to travel hundreds of miles to reach an abortion clinic. This will disproportionately impact low-income people and people of color. 

This is the first time in modern history that a ruling has leaked before the court issued it publicly. While nothing is yet final, if Roe v. Wade is demolished, the consequences could be deadly. 

Many pro-choice advocates on Twitter pointed out that abortion is as old as pregnancy itself, and overturning Roe v. Wade will not put an end to the procedure, it will only increase the number of unsafe abortions, which can be fatal. 

“Overturning Roe v Wade will harm the most vulnerable people — young women, poor women, rape victims, victims of domestic violence, teenagers, victims of incest, trans men. People with money have always found doctors to give them abortions,” wrote journalist Victoria Brownworth. 

Other Twitter users drew the painfully ironic connection between the Supreme Court’s opinion draft leak and Monday evening’s celebrity-packed Met Gala. 

“Let this be remembered as the night the Met Gala saluted the Gilded Age, a time of outrageous wealth disparity coated in the patina of luxury, while the Supreme Court sentenced poor women seeking reproductive freedom to death,” wrote author Bess Kalb. 

2022’s Met Gala theme was Gilded Age, which is a term coined by Mark Twain in his 1873 work The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today. His satirical novel was about the greed and corruption that spread through a time when some Americans successfully achieved the American dream to become very rich very quickly, while others lived in poverty. 

Gillian Branstetter, Communication Strategist at American Civil Liberties Union, further emphasized the similarities between that era and what the country is currently experiencing. 

“Notable detail of the Gilded Age. In the U.S, it was also the period most state laws banning abortion and cross-dressing were passed. Gross inequality and a fear of new immigrants tend to be followed by the tightening of gender norms in an effort to boost fertility,” Branstetter wrote. 

According to the Guttmacher Institute, about 75% of women who seek abortion services are low-income. Even before Roe was established, wealthy people always had access to the procedure. Millions of abortions were performed annually in the years leading up to the decision, but outcomes were remarkably different along racial and economic lines. 

A Guttmacher Institute study of low-income women in New York in the 1960s found that of those who have had abortions, 77% said they tried a self-induced procedure, and only 2% reported any involvement from a medical professional. 

According to an analysis from the Centers for Disease Control, in 1972 alone, 130,000 women obtained illegal or self-induced procedures, and 39 of them died. From 1972 to 1974, the mortality rate due to illegal abortion for women of color was 12 times that for white women.

But overturning Roe goes deeper than the ruling itself, it paves the way for more dangerous proposals that could further expand the government’s control of people’s bodily autonomy and life choices. 

Some states are already attempting to pass legislation that would limit access to birth control. For example, lawmakers in Missouri recently debated slashing Medicaid funding for birth control. 

Multiple lawmakers, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, Philly City Councilmember Kendra Brooks and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have spoken out against the Supreme Court’s drafted decision, calling on Congress to pass a law that would codify the landmark 1973 ruling, thus protecting a person’s right to reproductive freedom. 

“People elected Democrats precisely so we could lead in perilous moments like these- to codify Roe, hold corruption accountable, & have a President who uses his legal authority to break through Congressional gridlock on items from student debt to climate. It’s high time we do it,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter. 


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