On 2 May, the news outlet Politico reported on a document it had ‘obtained’ from within the US Supreme Court. The draft opinion relates to Mississippi’s challenge to Roe v. Wade, which the Court is due to decide on this summer. No such leak has ever occurred in modern history.
Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court ruling of 1973, has for decades been interpreted as giving women across the United States the legal right to have an abortion up till viability of the baby, considered to be around 24 weeks. It does not, however, as is often claimed, establish a ‘constitutional right to abortion’. The American Constitution nowhere enshrines ‘abortion rights’.
Thanks in large part to Donald Trump’s appointments, the Supreme Court has a pro-life majority; the leaked document merely confirms what many were already hoping, or fearing. The Supreme Court has since confirmed the authenticity of the document, while deploring the leak and ordering an investigation. Unless the Justices change their mind, it looks like Roe is set to be overturned this summer.
What could this mean?
If Roe is overturned, it will not mean a complete and immediate ban of abortion across America. What it will do is to allow individual States to ban abortion should they choose to do so. It is expected that about half of the States will avail themselves of this opportunity, and some have already passed ‘trigger’ laws – bans that will immediately come into effect should Roe be struck down.
At time of writing, a pro-life centre in Wisconsin had just been firebombed by pro-abortion activists and a number of churches had also been targeted with disruptive and intimidating activities.