by Photo courtesy of the U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday confirmed the authenticity of the leaked 98-paged draft opinion published Monday by Politico that seeks to overturn the constitutional protections of abortion rights established nearly 50 years ago.

Politico reported that the nation’s highest court may strike down the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruling in a draft decision of the majority opinion written by Samuel Alito, who said, “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start”. 

The draft opinion does not represent the final decision, according to Chief Justice Roberts in a statement confirming the document’s authenticity. 

“This was a singular and egregious breach of that trust that is an affront to the Court and the community of public servants who work here,” Roberts wrote, stressing the work of the court work would remain unaffected. 

If adopted, the ruling would be in favor of Mississippi's attempt to ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Striking down Roe v. Wade would allow individual states to set limits on abortion.

Not even 24 hours after the document was released, Democratic elected leaders promised to protect abortion rights in response to the draft ruling. President Joe Biden released a statement, vowing to place “more pro-choice Senators and a pro-choice majority in the House to adopt legislation that codifies Roe”, which he would pass into law. 

“My administration argued strongly before the Court in defense of Roe v. Wade. We said that Roe is based on “a long line of precedent recognizing ‘the Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty’… against government interference with intensely personal decisions.” I believe that a woman’s right to choose is fundamental, Roe has been the law of the land for almost fifty years, and basic fairness and the stability of our law demand that it not be overturned,” Biden said. 

Vice President Kamala Harris said the rights of all Americans are at risk, and indicated the draft ruling goes beyond the issue of abortion.

“Roe ensures a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion. It also, at its root, protects the fundamental right to privacy. What is clear is that opponents of Roe want to punish women and take away their rights to make decisions about their own bodies. Republican legislators in states across the country are weaponizing the use of the law against women,” Harris said. “The rights of all Americans are at risk. If the right to privacy is weakened, every person could face a future in which the government can potentially interfere in the personal decisions you make about your life.” 

Late Monday Night, Senate President pro-Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego), Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood), and Governor Gavin Newsom released a joint statement affirming California’s stance. The state recently declared itself a safe haven for all women seeking abortion or reproductive care. 

“California will not stand idly by as women across America are stripped of their rights and the progress so many have fought for gets erased. We will fight. California is proposing an amendment to enshrine the right to choose in our state constitution so that there is no doubt as to the right to abortion in this state. We know we can’t trust the Supreme Court to protect reproductive rights, so California will build a firewall around this right in our state constitution. Women will remain protected here,” the joint statement reads. 

Pro Tem Atkins introduced Assembly Bill 1375 to clarify existing law that allows nurse practitioners meeting specified criteria to practice without physician supervision, including first-trimester abortion care. According to Atkins, who is at the forefront of a women’s legislative group that will prepare a package of legislative initiatives and measures, AB 1375 would help address the shortage of health care professionals projected for California and complements recommendations from the California Future of Abortion Council as a way to strengthen abortion care. 

The bill would widen access and affordability to abortion services and healthcare, building on AB 154, also authored by Atkins. 

A projection by the California Future of Health Workforce Commission found that within the next decade, California will face a shortfall of more than 4,100 primary care clinicians. Atkins estimates that this shortfall will disproportionately impact seven million Californians living in underserved communities. 

According to Jodi Hicks, President, and CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, over 40 percent of counties in California do not have clinics that provide abortion. 

“With the U.S. Supreme Court set to decide a case that could overturn Roe v. Wade later this year, it is critical that California has the policies and providers necessary to meet the moment,” Hicks said. “SB 1375 will open up a host of qualified providers who can fill that gap, providing care not only for Californians but for those who may seek care outside of their own states should Roe fall.”

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