A leaked Supreme Court draft opinion suggests the court could be poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, leaving the legal status of abortion entirely up to states.
It is unclear if the draft, published Monday by Politico, reflects the court’s final decision. If the court’s final opinion, expected next month, is similar to the leaked opinion, reproductive rights would be rewritten almost immediately.
Here’s a look at what we know so far.
How have Washington’s politicians reacted?
At a quickly organized Tuesday rally, many of Washington’s top elected leaders raged against the leaked draft of a Supreme Court decision, promised that abortion would remain legal in Washington, and pledged that people from more conservative states could travel here for abortions.
State Democratic leaders pleaded with voters for support and promised to fight, even as there is no immediate avenue to counteract a ruling that, if finalized, would spell the end of Roe v. Wade.
Could Washington become an anti-abortion state?
Improbable as that seems, Mark Miloscia, a former state lawmaker and executive director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington, contends it could. After all, he said, “the impossible has happened” — a reference to the leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion indicating Roe v. Wade may soon be overturned.
“Now,” he continued, “the goal would be getting a pro-life majority in Washington state.”
It’s a reach in a Democratic state that passed a law legalizing abortion in the first four months of pregnancy in 1970, three years before Roe v. Wade legalized abortion nationwide.
How are WA abortion providers preparing for more out-of-state patients?
Amid sadness, anger and disbelief, providers and activists are rushing to make Washington a safe haven for people from other states who are seeking abortions here instead of at home.
How might the future of privacy and LGBTQ rights be affected?
The draft Supreme Court opinion has progressives fearing the conservative majority could use the same reasoning to target LGBTQ, contraceptive and other rights.
Other protections grounded in a constitutional right to privacy could be vulnerable to the same argument that they’re not “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition,” as Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his draft opinion.
Who will be most impacted by the decision?
If states are allowed to further restrict or even ban abortions, minority women will bear the brunt of it, according to statistics analyzed by The Associated Press.
When it comes to the effect on minority women, the numbers are unambiguous. In Mississippi, people of color comprise 44% of the population but 81% of women receiving abortions, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which tracks health statistics.
In Texas, they’re 59% of the population and 74% of those receiving abortions. The numbers in Alabama are 35% and 69%. In Louisiana, 42% and 72%.
Why the great disparities? Laurie Bertram Roberts, executive director of the Alabama-based Yellowhammer Fund, which provides financial support for women seeking abortion, said women of color in states with restrictive abortion laws often have limited access to health care and a lack of choices for effective birth control. Schools often have ineffective or inadequate sex education.
If abortions are outlawed, those same women — often poor — will likely have the hardest time traveling to other parts of the country to terminate pregnancies or raising children they might struggle to afford, said Roberts.
What does the sudden focus on abortion mean for the midterm election landscape?
The draft opinion surfaced just as the most competitive phase of the primary season was beginning, with races unfolding Tuesday in Ohio and Indiana. While the political fallout will take months to settle, this much is clear: Rarely in the modern era has a Supreme Court case had the potential to so dramatically reshape American life and politics.
What do we know about the leaking of the draft?
On Tuesday, in a statement, the Supreme Court confirmed the draft’s authenticity, though it cautioned that the document “does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case.” Chief Justice John Roberts ordered an investigation into the leak’s source. While there have, on very rare occasions, been leaks of the outcomes in cases, the publication of a draft running nearly 100 pages was without an evident modern parallel.
What comes next?
The nation’s capital has a long tradition of stunning leaks, from national security secrets to political scandals, but this week’s disclosure of a draft Supreme Court decision is one for the history books. This Q&A outlines what we know so far, and what comes next.
Information from Bloomberg, The Associated Press and The Washington Post was included in this report.