The United States Supreme Court could strike down the right to abortion in the country, according to a court’s draft majority opinion that would tear apart nearly 50 years of constitutional protections.
The 98-page draft, obtained by Politico, was authored by Justice Samuel Alito and distributed inside the conservative-dominated court, the news outlet reported.
The text cites the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision enshrining abortion rights as “appallingly wrong from the start.”
“We hold that Roe and Casey should be overturned,” Alito writes in the document, labeled “Opinion of the Court” and posted on Politico’s website.
“It’s time to heed the Constitution and return the abortion issue to the elected representatives of the people.”
In Roe v. Wade, the country’s Supreme Court held that access to abortion is a woman’s constitutional right.
In a 1992 decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the court guaranteed a woman’s right to abort until the fetus is viable outside the womb, which usually occurs between 22 and 24 weeks’ gestation.
“The inescapable conclusion is that abortion rights are not deeply rooted in the nation’s history and traditions,” Alito wrote.
Reproductive rights have come under increasing threat in the United States in recent months, as states have moved to tighten restrictions.
Right-wing politicians have launched an attack on abortion, while Democrats, led by President Joe Biden, are fighting to protect access to the procedure.
In December, hearing oral arguments on a Mississippi law that could ban most abortions after 15 weeks, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority seemed inclined not only to uphold the state rule, but to overturn the decision to Roe vs. Wade.
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“It’s not definitive”
This nine-member body, dominated by conservatives following former President Donald Trump‘s nomination of three justices, is expected to issue a decision in the Mississippi case by June.
Politico stressed that the document it obtained is a draft and that opinions could change until then.
The leak of the text is extraordinary as a case is still being decided. Politico said it was the first time in modern history that a draft opinion had been publicly revealed.
Asked about the disclosed document, a Supreme Court spokeswoman said: “The Court has no comment.”
The Guttmacher Institute, a research group that advocates for abortion rights, has said it is “certain or likely” that 26 states will ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
States that do so could still legally allow abortion even if the court overturns Roe v. Wade.
Planned Parenthood, which operates abortion clinics across the country, called the draft opinion “outrageous” but cautioned that it is “not definitive.”
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