Draft Decision Ending Roe Emboldens Activists on Both Sides

BBoth pro-abortion right and anti-abortion activists spent the majority of Tuesday scrambling for responses to an unpublished draft of a Supreme Court ruling that would reverse their positions. Roe v. Wade.

Experts say that the release of the draft, which was first published by Politico is not final or legally binding. However, it fundamentally changes the national debate on abortion. This news will encourage conservative lawmakers to restrict abortion at state level. It could also create confusion for would-be patients and discourage them from seeking legal abortions.

Planned Parenthood (NARAL Pro-Choice America) and Independent Abortion Clinics (and other reproductive rights organizations) say that reminding people about the legality of abortion is a key priority. Meanwhile conservative lawmakers are now considering proposing new legislation—or reconvening legislative sessions—in light of the leaked decision.

Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged Tuesday that the draft was authentic. However, a spokesperson said that it could change because the opinion would overturn 1973’s decision which established the right to abortion. The Court will not issue a definitive decision stating otherwise until then. Roe v. WadeIt is still in force.

Learn More The Leaked Roe V. Wade Supreme Court Draft Opinion

A mass confusion regarding current abortion rights

Elizabeth Nash is a Guttmacher Institute researcher who monitors state abortion policies. She says that many people may be confused about current rights. “Most certainly some people will think abortion is banned,” she says. “And that’s why we’re seeing abortion providers and patient groups working doubly hard to remind people that abortion remains legal.”

Abortion providers and abortion funds said they’ve received a volley of calls on Tuesday asking whether abortion is still legal, and are currently working to help patients access care. “No matter what a court decides, no matter what law is passed or overturned, people have always needed and will continue to need access to safe abortion,” Dr. Bhavik Kumar, medical director of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast told reporters on Tuesday. “Unfortunately, people of color, poor and low income people, young folks, undocumented people and those living in rural areas are suffering the most from these abortion bans.” Kumar is in Texas providing abortion services to patients this week.

Already, 13 states have laws known as “trigger bans” that would outlaw abortion if RoeIt was overturned and six other countries have pre-date abortion bans. RoeHowever, it could be made effective. Oral arguments were heard by the Court on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s HealthIn December, experts and advocates on both sides arrived expecting that justices will significantly reverse or invalidate the 1973 decision.

Learn More If Roe v. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court, the Battle for the Future of the Anti-Abortion Movement

Since then, abortion opponents have jumped into action pushing more aggressive restrictions on abortion in anticipation of the high Court’s ruling. Guttmacher reports that between Jan. 1, and April 14, Republican-led countries introduced 536 restrictions on abortion in 42 states. Texas last year passed its 6-week abortion ban using a private enforcement mechanism. This has inspired other states. Florida and Arizona have passed 15 week abortion bans. Idaho passed a law modeled on Texas’ six-week ban. Kentucky passed a law imposing a host of new abortion restrictions that temporarily shut down the state’s abortion providers until a judge blocked the law. Oklahoma passed a law outlawing all abortions and is close to enacting two others that use Texas’ civil enforcement process.

Other restrictions are at state levels

Some state legislature sessions are now over for the year. Others, like Missouri, Louisiana, and Ohio, continue. In light of this leak, lawmakers may be able to introduce new legislation and advance existing bills. “This leak has also energized abortion opponents, and so they are gearing up for the day when Roe falls,” Nash says.

If the Court is not satisfied, state lawmakers can reopen sessions or amend their rules. Roe. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem tweeted on Monday that if the Politico report was true, she would “immediately call for a special session to save lives and guarantee that every unborn child has a right to life in South Dakota.”

Supporters of abortion rights are hopeful that the leak will inspire liberal legislators and voters to participate in the next midterm election. Planned Parenthood Action Fund, NARAL and EMILY’s List recently announced they plan to spend $150 million ahead of the 2022 midterms, and abortion rights leaders noted on Tuesday that they had been inundated with calls and text messages from people asking how they can show up to help.

Learn More Red States Aren’t Waiting for the Supreme Court’s Roe Decision to Push New Abortion Bans

“We have been warning for decades about what is happening in this country in terms of abortion access,” Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of National Women’s Law Center told reporters on Tuesday. “I think this draft opinion leaked last night is making it real for people.”

Mini Timmaraju, president of NARAL, similarly called the leak a “wake up call” for groups across the progressive spectrum. “This week has given us a perfect opportunity to close the believability gap and really let people understand what’s at stake in this,” she said.

The abortion funds are grassroots organizations that provide support and financial assistance to women seeking abortions. They expect to receive a lot of donations this week. Access Reproductive Care-Southeast (ARC-Southeast), which serves six South states, raised $5,000 through the platform’s fundraising campaign from Monday night to Tuesday morning. Njoku stated that although it may not seem like a large amount to national organizations, this is an enormous amount of money for the group. It was raised in less than 24 hours.

“What we’re telling patients, what has been our commitment to our community from the very beginning, is that we will do whatever we need to do to make sure that folks get access to the abortion care that they want and they need, that we’re doing our part to eliminate those barriers to abortion access by providing abortion funding and logistical support,” Njoku said. “And that is not going to change depending on what the laws are.”

Read More From Time

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