Lindsay Whitehurst and Michelle L. Price
The bomb leak of the draft opinion, which suggests the Supreme Court is ready to overturn the landmark Rowe v. Wade case on legalizing abortion across the country, has led the country on an even more polarized and changing abortion rights landscape.
Almost immediately, Republicans, who for decades had helped end abortion rights, encouraged Rowe’s potential fall. Democrats have promised to fight the possible loss of constitutional law, which has been in force for almost half a century.
The Supreme Court confirmed that the draft being traced, first published by Politico, is a genuine document, but said Tuesday that “it does not constitute a court decision or the final position of any member on the case.”
While the draft conclusion could change, Democrats and Republicans across all states have vowed to act amid warnings that such a decision could jeopardize other rights – battles that could also take place in states.
In California, Democrats, who control the state legislature and the governor’s office, issued a joint statement Monday announcing they would seek to amend the state’s constitution to secure abortion rights.
“California will not stand idly by, as women across America are disenfranchised and the progress many have fought for is being erased,” California Democrats said. “We know we can’t trust the Supreme Court to protect reproductive rights, so California will build a firewall around that right in our state’s constitution. Women will remain under protection here. “
South Dakota Gov. Christie Noem, a Republican, said on Twitter that she plans to convene a special legislative session immediately “to save lives” if Rowe is repealed. The state already has a so-called trigger law that will make abortion illegal if it happens, and Noem’s office declined to say why a special session would be needed. Her spokeswoman Ian Fury said the tweet “speaks for itself”.
In Georgia, one of several dozen states electing governors this year, candidates on both sides of the aisle said they would prefer the issue if elected to the state’s top post.
Republican gubernatorial candidate David Purdue said he was convening state lawmakers for a special session to ban all abortions, while Democratic nominee Stacy Abrams said she would defend the right to abortion if she won.
About half of U.S. states are expected to ban abortion if Rowe falls, according to the Gutmacher Institute’s abortion rights think tank. Twenty-two states, mostly in the South and Midwest, already have a complete or near-complete ban on books. Except for Texas, everyone is now blocked because of Rowe.
States are already preparing to have the ordinance relaxed or repealed, and Republican-led states are also working to restrict access to medical abortion, allowing women to have abortions without the burden of trips to clinics, which may be few and far between.
In addition to South Dakota, 12 other states have laws that prohibit abortion immediately if Rowe is repealed.
One is Oklahoma, where Republican Speaker Charles McCall said Tuesday that “decades of unwavering prayer and unwavering legislative efforts to protect the lives of the unborn are finally on the verge of success.”
“For almost 50 years, the silent cries of millions who have lost their lives without even being able to live have been heard through the voices of those of us fighting for our rights,” McCall said. “The Movement for Life has won by providing those who have not yet been born with a future and a promise that comes with birth in the United States.”
Several states still have bans on books, including Michigan, where Democratic Gov. Whitmer, a Gov.
The Kansas Supreme Court in 2019 declared that the state constitution protects the right to abortion, but Republican lawmakers in the primary election in August initiated its repeal.
In New Hampshire, Gov. Chris Sununu was a rare Republican governor who said he supported the right to abortion and sought to support Rowe against Wade. “As long as I am governor, these health services for women will remain safe and legal,” Sununu said.
Last year, however, Sununu signed an abortion restrictions law when he approved a measure banning abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy, except only for pregnancies that threaten the life or health of the mother.
Polls show that relatively few Americans want Rowe to be abolished. In 2020, AP VoteCast found that 69% of voters in the presidential election said the Supreme Court should leave Rowe v. Wade’s decision as is; only 29% said the court should overturn the decision. Overall, AP-NORC polls show that the majority of the population is in favor of legal abortion in most or all cases.
At least eight Republican-led states have already adopted new restrictions this year, awaiting change from a conservative majority in the Supreme Court. Arizona and Florida banned the procedure 15 weeks later without exception for rape or incest. Others, like Oklahoma, have gone further and since this summer have recognized abortion as a crime, except for the life of the mother.
Idaho followed Texas and allowed people to sue for abortion, including potential members of the embryo’s family.
Meanwhile, sixteen states and the District of Columbia have defended access to abortion in state laws, and several states this year have decided to expand or strengthen those protections.
States such as Washington and Connecticut, for example, have protected abortion providers in their states from lawsuits.
Leaders in the Connecticut Democratic Party, who last weekend sent a law to the state’s governor protecting abortion providers, said in a joint statement Monday night that they feared a proposed solution similar to that in the draft opinion, and “now it’s a nightmare, it seems to be too real. ”
“America is probably on a dark path where individual states will adopt conflicting statutes that will lead to further divisions in an already divided nation,” said Senate President Martin Looney and Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff.
New York Democratic Gov. Katie Hochul said her staff would “embrace with open arms” those who need access to abortion.
In Hawaii, State Sen. Rose Baker, a Democrat, questioned what else could be made by the court.
“Are they going to return to the LGBTQ community?” she said. “Are they going to go after the immigrants? Are they going to persecute any of the vulnerable groups? ”
In some cases, abortion laws may also divide states.
In Tennessee, the Republican-led Republic also has a law banning abortion if Rowe is repealed, but Nashville District Attorney on Monday wrote on Twitter that he would not prosecute the doctor who performed the abortion.
Associated Press reporters across the country contributed to this report.