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Sunday October 2nd, 2022 10:48PM

Live updates | Both sides stunned by abortion draft opinion

By The Associated Press
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People on both sides of the abortion divide have been expecting that this summer the Supreme Court would reverse the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide.

On Monday night, a leaked draft opinion written in February that would overturn Roe began reverberating around the world. Even those anticipating the undoing of Roe said it was still staggering to see the words in print, forcing them to reckon with the likely reality the nation will soon enter.

The draft opinion doesn’t represent the court’s final word, and the language could change before the court issues its ruling. But if the heart of the draft remains the same, it would give states the power to decide the legality of abortion. More than half are likely to quickly ban abortion.

“I can’t stop crying,” said an elated Mississippi state Rep. Becky Currie, who sponsored the 2018 law that is the basis for the Supreme Court case. “I am not quite sure I have the words to express how I feel right now, but God has had his hands on that bill since the beginning.”

The leaked draft, published late Monday by Politico, is a 98-page majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which challenged the constitutionality of Currie’s bill that banned abortion after the first 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Dalton Johnson, the owner of an Alabama abortion clinic, said that as he read the leaked draft, he was struck by the harshness of the language that would end the constitutional right to an abortion, shuttering clinics in about half of the states, including his.

“I’m still in shock,” Johnson said Tuesday.

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KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE ABORTION STORY:

— Biden says if Roe v. Wade is overturned, other rights could be next

— Chief Justice John Roberts launches an investigation into the leak

— Several state abortion bans would kick in if Roe is overturned

— The leak of the draft opinion came as a shock to Supreme Court watchers

— News of the draft opinion reverberated in Michigan, which has a pre-Roe abortion ban

Find all AP stories on abortion: https://apnews.com/hub/abortion

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OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

SAN FRANCISCO — Yelp on Tuesday called on Congress to codify the right to abortion into law following the leak of a draft opinion showing that a majority of the Supreme Court would overrule Roe v. Wade.

“Overturning Roe v. Wade will jeopardize the human rights of millions of women who stand to lose the liberty to make decisions over their own bodies,” the company said in a statement. “Turning back the clock on the progress women have made over the past 50 years will have a seismic impact on our society and economy.”

The online reviews site said “more companies will need to step up to safeguard their employees, and provide equal access to the health services they need no matter where they live.”

The San Francisco-based company announced last month that it would cover expenses for its workers who must travel out of state for abortions, joining the ranks of other employers such as Citigroup that are trying to help employees affected by abortion restrictions.

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WASHINGTON — The text of a Supreme Court opinion and even the justices’ votes can change, sometimes dramatically, between the time they take a first vote on the case during a private conference following oral arguments and when the decision is announced.

That happened in the 1992 abortion case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which ended up reaffirming the right to an abortion.

Initially, as Evan Thomas recounted in his recent biography of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, it seemed there were five justices willing to overrule Roe v. Wade. But in late May of that year, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote to his colleague Justice Harry Blackmun, himself the author of Roe v. Wade, that there had been some developments in the case.

Three justices — Kennedy and O’Connor and Justice David Souter — had been “meeting secretly to save a woman’s right to abortion,” Thomas wrote.

“The Troika, as they became known, was cobbling together a joint opinion” that would lead to the preservation of Roe, he wrote. All three justices have since retired.

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WASHINGTON — Police have erected a low metal fence outside of the Supreme Court blocking access to all but the lowest level of the building’s steps and separating demonstrators into separate pens.

Anti-abortion rights protestors carried signs Tuesday that said “Ignore Roe” and “In God We Trust,” while their pro-abortion-rights counterparts held placards declaring “Bans off our Bodies” and “Impeach Kavanaugh” — a reference to Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

One man with a bullhorn shouted, “Before the United States, before the constitution, there was God’s law.”

The crowds were expected to build throughout the day as people finished work. Multiple pro-rights groups called for a mobilization and mass gathering at the court at 5 p.m.

Politico published a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion late Monday showing that a majority of the court is prepared to overrule the landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion nationwide. Chief Justice John Roberts verified Tuesday that the leaked draft is authentic but cautioned that it doesn’t represent any justice’s final opinion.

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A Missouri law criminalizing most abortions is set to kick in if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

The state’s Republican attorney general, Eric Schmitt, who is running for Senate, said Tuesday that he would take immediate action to allow the state’s abortion ban to take effect if the Supreme Court overturns the landmark ruling.

Politico published a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion late Monday showing that a majority of the court is prepared to overrule the landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion nationwide.

Under Missouri’s 2019 law, doctors who perform abortions would face five to 15 years in prison, with an exception for abortions needed to save mothers’ lives.

About half of U.S. states are already expected to ban abortion if Roe falls, according to the abortion-rights think tank the Guttmacher Institute. Twenty-two states, largely in the South and Midwest, already have total or near-total bans on the books. Aside from Texas, all are now blocked in court because of Roe.

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AUSTIN, Texas — The first test of how the Supreme Court’s leaked abortion draft opinion could affect the midterms is likely weeks away in Texas, where U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, one of the last anti-abortion Democrats in Congress, is in a runoff later this month against abortion rights proponent Jessica Cisneros.

Abortion rights groups for months have poured money and staff on the ground into the South Texas district. On Tuesday, they looked at the race with new urgency.

But they also acknowledged they’ve been down this road before: dire warnings that Roe was in jeopardy, fueling massive voter mobilization efforts but still not changing the balance of power on the courts or in statehouses. What’ll be different next time is a question that gnaws at even their most faithful.

“It’s been really hard to organize around it, to be candid,” said Mini Timmaraju, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. “Sometimes you need that extra push. And unfortunately, as horrific as this is, this is probably it.”

Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said a month ago that her group’s internal polling showed a “believability gap” that people did not think the Supreme Court would overturn Roe. She said Wednesday that the leaked opinion could close those numbers.

“That frustration and rage, and coupled with the incredible grassroots organizing that is happening, particularly among communities of color, reproductive justice organizations, will be the time that really transforms this midterm,” she said.

___

WASHINGTON — Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, is holding firm to his refusal to end the filibuster despite the Supreme Court’s leaked draft decision that would overturn the nation’s landmark Roe v. Wade law.

Changing the Senate’s filibuster rules is likely the only way that Democrats could pass legislation protecting abortion rights. It now takes 60 votes to move forward on most legislation.

But changing the Senate rules would require the support of all 50 Senate Democrats. Manchin, along with Sen. Kirsten Sinema of Arizona, has long opposed taking that step.

Asked Tuesday if he would vote to eliminate filibuster now, Manchin replied: “The filibuster is the only protection we have for democracy.”

He said filibusters have protected abortion rights in the past and added, “we have to look at it, but the bottom line is it’s the only check and balance we have.”

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WASHINGTON — Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, one of the few Senate Republicans in favor of protecting abortion access, reacted with alarm Tuesday to the Supreme Court’s draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade.

“My confidence in the court has been rocked,” Murkowski told reporters on Capitol Hill.

Murkowski denounced the leak of the draft resolution as an “absolutely reprehensible” act — the Supreme Court is now investigating — and cautioned that “we don’t know the direction that this decision may ultimately take.”

Still, she noted that she has already proposed legislation along with fellow Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine that would codify abortion rights.

“I thought it made sense then and I think it makes perhaps more sense” now, she said.

The court is expected to rule on the abortion case before its term ends in late June or early July.

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JACKSON, Miss. — Abortion rights opponent Barbara Beavers stood outside Mississippi’s only abortion clinic Tuesday next to two signs with the slogans: “Ask me about free pregnancy tests & ultrasounds” and “You don’t have to do this today.”

Beavers, who retired from a crisis pregnancy center, which tries to persuade women not to have abortions, prayed and tried to talk to people as they got out of cars to go inside.

“I’m offering help and alternatives to abortion,” said Beavers, who lives in Jackson. “Abortion hurts women as well as unborn children, and so I want to offer them kind of a last — before they go in — place of respite, help and hope.”

Asked if she thought she would ever see Roe v. Wade overturned, Beavers said: “Dred Scott was overturned. It was a bad law. Roe v. Wade’s bad law. We need to be defending our children, unborn or born. We need to be defending them. We need to be supporting them. We don’t need to be killing them.”

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WASHINGTON — Sen. Elizabeth Warren is calling out Republicans for focusing on trying to figure out who leaked the Supreme Court’s abortion draft resolution instead of what the court seems poised to do.

The Massachusetts Democrat said Tuesday that, “What should be investigated and prosecuted is the fact that people who were nominated to the Supreme Court stood up and said they believed in the rule of law and precedent, and then at first opportunity, changed direction by 180 degrees and are going for a full repeal of Roe.”

Warren was reacting to Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell’s call for the leaker to be investigated and prosecuted.

Asked whether she thinks the judicial process is broken, Warren said: “The Republicans have worked for decades to reach this day. They have carefully cultivated the people who have ended up on the Supreme Court. They knew what they were getting when they voted for these people. And this is what they want. It is up to the rest of us to make the legislative process work.“

The draft published by Politico late Monday says that a majority of the court is prepared to overrule the landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion nationwide.

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WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says the Supreme Court’s leaked draft decision that would overturn the nation’s landmark Roe v. Wade law is an “abomination.”

The Democrat from New York on Tuesday vowed that if the ruling stands, the Senate will vote on legislation to uphold women’s access to abortions.

But Schumer stopped short of promising to change the Senate’s filibuster rules to allow Democrats to overcome Republican obstruction and pass legislation that would salvage the landmark abortion law on their own.

Instead, he signaled that they will fight it out on the campaign trail this fall.

___

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Tuesday blasted as “radical” the draft Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that protected abortion rights.

“It concerns me a great deal that after 50 years we’re going to decide that a woman doesn’t have the right to choose,” Biden told reporters before boarding Air Force One for a trip to Alabama.

If the decision is issued, he said, “a whole range of rights” that are based on the presumption of privacy will be in question, including access to contraception and same sex marriage.

“It’s a fundamental shift in American jurisprudence,” Biden said.

Biden said he wanted Congress to pass legislation codifying Roe v. Wade, but he wasn’t prepared to say whether the Senate should sidestep the filibuster to do so.

___

WASHINGTON — Chief Justice John Roberts on Tuesday confirmed the authenticity of a leaked draft opinion suggesting the Supreme Court may be be poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide.

Roberts also ordered an investigation into what he called an “egregious breach of trust.”

In the high court’s first public comment since the draft was published late Monday, Roberts said, “Although the document described in yesterday’s reports is authentic, it does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case.”

“To the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the Court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed,” he said in a written statement.

He added: “I have directed the Marshal of the Court to launch an investigation into the source of the leak.”

___

If the U.S. Supreme Court follows through on overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide, it would immediately split the country into states with abortion access and those that outlaw it.

Some states had already been preparing for the potential that the high court could weaken or overturn Roe, but the bombshell leak of the draft opinion appeared to accelerate that drive Tuesday, setting the country on course for an even more jumbled landscape of abortion rights even before the court actually issues its ruling.

Almost immediately after Politico released the draft Monday night, Republicans who had fostered a decades-long push to end abortion rights cheered the prospect while Democrats vowed to fight the possible overturning of a constitutional right that has been in place for nearly a half-century.

In California, Democrats who wield control of the state Legislature and the governor’s office issued a joint statement late Monday announcing they would seek to amend the state’s constitution to enshrine abortion rights.

About half of U.S. states are already expected to ban abortion if Roe falls, according to the abortion-rights think tank Guttmacher Institute. Twenty-two states, largely in the South and Midwest, already have total or near-total bans on the books. Aside from Texas, all are now blocked in court because of Roe.

Thirteen states have so-called trigger laws that would immediately ban abortion if Roe is overturned and would presumably go into effect if the Supreme Court majority votes for the draft in late June or early July.

___

The Supreme Court is known for keeping secrets. Year after year, in major case after major case, there’s little beyond what the justices say during oral arguments that suggests how they will rule.

That’s what makes the leak of an apparent draft of an opinion in a major abortion case a shock to court watchers.

The draft published by Politico says that a majority of the court is prepared to overrule the landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion nationwide.

There have been leaks before, but not of such magnitude. Only a handful of people have access to decisions before they’re published.

___

News that the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision is reverberating in political battleground Michigan.

The state has a pre-Roe abortion ban that may take effect and is unlikely to be changed by the Republican-led Legislature.

Attention quickly is turning to the courts, where Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Planned Parenthood have filed lawsuits seeking to invalidate the 1931 law.

The development also is putting a focus on the November election, when the governor and legislators are up for reelection and voters may decide whether to enshrine abortion rights in the Michigan Constitution.

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