Abortion rights: leaked documents show US Supreme Court poised to overturn Roe v. Wade

US abortion law: Phoebe Bridgers is the latest celebrity to share their abortion story in response to the assault on Roe v Wade

Leaked Supreme Court documents appear to show justices poised to overturn the historic Roe v Wade ruling and make abortion illegal across America.

Updated 4 May: Celebrities and politicians are speaking out in support of abortion rights in the US after a leaked draft opinion revealed that the US Supreme Court had provisionally voted to overturn Roe v Wade – the landmark ruling that legalised abortion nationwide in America.

Among them was the musician Phoebe Bridgers, who took to Twitter to share that she had had an abortion in October last year, and urged her fans to donate to abortion funds that help women across the US to access life-saving reproductive care.

“I had an abortion in October of last year while I was on tour,” the Motion Sickness singer wrote. “I went to planned parenthood where they gave me the abortion pill. It was easy. Everyone deserves that kind of access.” 

While Bridgers is the most recent celebrity to share her abortion story in a push back against efforts to peel back reproductive rights, she’s certainly not alone.

Ever since states began to try and introduce six-week abortion bans – often wrongly described as ‘heartbeat bills’ – in a push to eliminate the Roe v Wade ruling, a variety of big names have come forward to share their stories and protest against the draconian reforms.

Among them were the likes of Milla Jovovich, Alyssa Milano, Keke Palmer and Jameela Jamil – the latter of whom spoke out in response to efforts by lawmakers to introduce one of the aforementioned six-week abortion bans in the southern state of Georgia.

“I had an abortion when I was young, and it was the best decision I have ever made,” she wrote on Twitter at the time. “Both for me, and for the baby I didn’t want, and wasn’t ready for, emotionally, psychologically and financially. So many children will end up in foster homes. So many lives ruined. So very cruel.” 

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A variety of celebrities, politicians and social media figures alike have also spoken out about the importance of abortion care after the US journal Politico said on Monday evening (2 May) it had obtained an initial majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito and circulated in the court on 10 February.

The draft repeals down Roe v Wade, the 1973 ruling that enshrined the constitutional right to abortion, and a subsequent 1992 decision – Planned Parenthood v. Casey – that largely upheld that right.

Politico quoted Alito as saying: “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.”

The justice adds: “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.”

The leak is the first time in modern history that the public has seen a Supreme Court draft decision while a case was still pending.

According to the document, four of the other Republican-appointed justices – Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett – voted with Alito in the conference held among the justices.

However, as The Guardian explains, after an initial vote among the justices following the oral argument, one is assigned the majority opinion and writes a draft. It is then circulated among the justices. At times, in between the initial vote and the ruling being released, the vote alignment can change. A ruling is only final when it is published by the court.

Campaigners have long been concerned that Roe v Wade would be overturned as several Republican-led states have already passed highly restrictive abortion laws.

Videos showed protests forming outside the Supreme Court building in Washington DC, with journalist for the Washington Examiner Cami Mondeaux sharing an image of barricades going up around the Supreme Court building in Washington, DC, “just minutes after reports from Politico were leaked indicating SCOTUS has voted to overturn Roe v Wade”. 

Following the reports, people have been speaking out on social media, with some highlighting the timing clash with the 2022 Met Gala.

“The Supreme Court overturning Roe v Wade while the whole country is distracted by an inconsequential event celebrating extreme wealth is, unfortunately, the most symbolic representation of America rn,” wrote podcaster Julia Hava.

“Not surprising. But still outrageous,” Hillary Clinton, who also attended the Gala, wrote in a tweet. “This decision is 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 added. “What an utter disgrace.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote: “An extremist Supreme Court is poised to overturn #RoeVWade and impose its far-right, unpopular views on the entire country. It’s time for the millions who support the Constitution and abortion rights to stand up and make their voices heard. We’re not going back—not ever.”

“Congress must pass legislation that codifies Roe v Wade as the law of the land in this country NOW. And if there aren’t 60 votes in the Senate to do it, and there are not, we must end the filibuster to pass it with 50 votes,” tweeted Senator Bernie Sanders.

However, as political analyst The Palmer Report emphasised: “the draft memo obtained by Politico does not mean the Supreme Court has struck down Roe v Wade. It means the court intends to strike it down when the decision comes down in a couple months.

“We now need massive protests to pressure the court not to go through with this travesty.”

“As an abortion rights activist here in TX I can tell you nationwide we’ve been preparing for Roe v Wade to fall. We knew this was coming and we are prepared to fight for bodily autonomy. Do not give up. Please keep fighting with us,” added activist Olivia Julianna.

“The precedent this will set is that precedent does not matter. Every. Single. Ruling. Can. Be. Attacked.”

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