AN leaked draft of a United States Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe V Wade, a landmark decision of 1973 which legalized abortion across the country, has brought abortion rights back to the center of American political discourse.
In the wake of the leak, which was published by Politico on the evening of May 2, protests both for and against protected access to abortion have erupted nationally.
Federal legislators have swore to push ahead with a likely symbolic attempt to codify abortion access rights into US law, while state elected officials in the US have sought to prepare for a post-Roe world v Wade.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has confirmed the authenticity of the document, emphasizing that it was not a final draft and launching an investigation into the leak.
Here’s what’s happened in the week since the draft opinion was leaked:
Commitment to Pass Federal Legislation
The leak will surely electrify upcoming midterm elections in the united statesthat will determine the political composition of the United States Congress.
While Democrats currently have a House majority of 435 seats and a razor-thin Senate majority of 100 seats, they currently do not have the votes to reach the 60-vote threshold needed to overcome a filibuster in the last chamber. .
However, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, promised to move forward with a vote to codify the right to access abortion into US law.
Before Roe v Wade, laws related to access to abortion were left to the states. The 1973 decision ruled that access to abortion was a right protected by the United States Constitution. Overturn the decision, without federal legislation, return control of abortion access to states.
Schumer called the vote on the legislation one of the “biggest we’ve ever taken,” and Democrats noted that even with little chance of getting 60 votes in the chamber, where Democrats and independents who vote with Democrats hold 50 seats, the vote would put lawmakers firmly on the record about where they stand on the issue.
the leak too fed even more perennial debate over completely eliminating filibuster, which would allow most laws to pass with a simple majority in the House.
Republicans, for their part, have largely sidestepped the broader issue of abortion rights, focusing instead on the leak itself, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell saying the act should be “investigated.” and punished to the greatest extent possible, to the greatest extent possible.”
Democratic lawmakers have raised further concerns after McConnell said in an interview that a national abortion ban was “possible” if Republicans took control of the legislature in the midterm elections.
States ready for a post-Roe reality
The response to the leaked opinion has highlighted states that for years have been preparing for a post-Roe v Wade world.
About half of the states in the US are is expected to impose bans or restrictions on access to abortion if Roe v Wade is overturned.
Many state legislatures have picked up their pace ahead of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case that could overturn Roe v Wade.
In 2022, 546 abortion restrictions were introduced in 42 state legislatures, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Of those, 32 restrictions have been approved by at least one legislative chamber in 12 states, with 37 restrictions enacted in 10 states.
At the time of the leak, 13 states had already passed so-called trigger laws, which are designed to ban almost all abortions within state lines, either immediately or in the days following the end of Roe v Wade.
Five other states still have pre-Roe v Wade abortion bans on the books, though it’s not clear if all those bans would go into effect immediately or if the laws would be enforced by authorities.
While many state legislatures were not in session at the time of the leak, state elected officials vowed to redouble efforts to pass abortion-related laws.
If this report is true and Roe v. Wade, I will immediately convene a special session to save lives and ensure that every unborn child has a right to life in South Dakota. https://t.co/oIiGibCP7B
— Governor Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) May 3, 2022
In the Louisiana House, lawmakers last week introduced one of the most restrictive abortion bills in the country that would make women and girls criminally liable for having abortions.
In South Dakota, Gov. Kristi Noem has said she will “immediately call a special session to save lives and ensure every unborn child has a right to life in South Dakota” if Roe v Wade is overturned.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, meanwhile, said the state’s trigger law would take effect if Roe v Wade is overturned, while dodging questions about whether the state would attempt to ban contraception if the ruling is overturned.
State attorneys general in Missouri and Arkansas have also said they would certify trigger laws in their states if Roe v Wade is overturned.
The possibility has also led to an opposing push by supporters of abortion rights.
At least 16 states had passed laws in recent years to protect abortion rights.
Following the leak, California’s governor and top lawmakers said last week that they will seek a “state constitutional amendment to enshrine the right to choose in our state constitution so there is no question about abortion rights in this state.”
For her part, New York Governor Kathy Hochul promised that the state would continue to be “a safe haven” for those seeking abortions across the country.
Meanwhile, Michigan’s attorney general has said she won’t enforce the state’s 1931 law banning abortions if Roe v Wade is struck down, but acknowledged that the state’s 83 local county prosecutors could enforce the law if they choose. .
What do we know about the leak investigation?
Chief Justice John Roberts said last week that he has ordered the bailiff of the court “to launch an investigation into the source of the leak.”
Since then, there have been few details about the scope and scale of the investigation, with sources telling the Wall Street Journal that no sheriff’s deputies are known to have conducted an investigation into a leak.
Observers have noted that the decision to recruit the sheriff instead of an agency like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) may show a desire to keep investigation and findings close at hand.
Observers have also noted that it is not at all clear whether leaking the draft would constitute a crime.