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Draft opinion signals Supreme Court intent to overturn Roe v. Wade

Alabama Republicans praised the chance at overturning the landmark decision, but expressed concern about the draft being leaked.

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A draft opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court published by Politico Monday shows the imminent decision to overturn the landmark abortion rights cases Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

The dramatic reversal would immediately result in the criminalization of abortion in Alabama as well as many other southern and midwestern states.

The decision would leave abortion regulation completely up to the states, allowing full bans of the procedure or full provision.

Alabama passed one of the toughest abortion laws in the country in 2019, making it a Class A felony punishable by up to 99 years in prison to perform an abortion at any stage of pregnancy, with no exception for rape or incest. 

The bill was specifically designed to challenge Roe v. Wade, although it is a Mississippi law banning abortions before viability that reached the Supreme Court first, triggering the case in which the draft opinion was written by Justice Samuel Alito.

Alito in the draft calls Roe “egregiously wrong from the start.”

“Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences,” Alito says in the opinion. “And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.”

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House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter, R – Rainsville, in a statement Monday said  that “Alabama will be well-positioned to quickly end abortion within our borders” if the final ruling closely follows the draft opinion.

“In 2018, voters overwhelmingly ratified a constitutional amendment officially declaring Alabama a pro-life  state, and soon after, our Republican Legislature passed the nation’s strongest law protecting unborn life from abortion,” Ledbetter said. “Alabama stands ready to take immediate action if the Supreme Court ultimately overturns Roe and allows states to once again determine abortion-related matters.”

Alabama Democratic Party Chairman Chris England criticized the opinion.

“Yet again, Republican legislators and appointed judges think they should be sitting between you and your doctor while making medical decisions,” England said in a statement released Monday. “Republican politicians will claim this is a win for ‘life’ in a state with high infant mortality rates, a Black maternal mortality crisis, and countless other public health crises. They refuse to expand Medicaid, providing free lifesaving healthcare access to Alabama families – or do anything else that actually sanctifies life for Alabamians. Now, their law will block abortion access in Alabama, negatively affecting women with the fewest resources the most. 

“Some of our nation’s most consequential laws are written in state legislatures. This challenge started in the halls of the Mississippi legislature, and Democrats must remember this example of why local elections must be a central focus. What happens every day in Jackson or Montgomery can have national implications. 

“While the Alabama Republican supermajority keeps trying to turn the clock back decades on our freedoms – Alabama Democrats and our 2022 candidates will defend Alabamians’ freedom to make their own medical decisions – especially their right to abortion. In the meantime, we need Democrats in Washington to act and pass laws that protect abortion access for all Americans.”

Despite excitement from advocates who have been fighting nearly half a century to overturn the Supreme Court decision, Republicans also expressed anger at the leaking of the opinion.

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Gov. Kay Ivey is among those crying foul.

“This unprecedented leak is concerning, outrageous and a blatant attempt to manipulate the sacred procedures of the U.S. Supreme Court,” Ivey said. “Those responsible should be held accountable. My prayer is that Roe v. Wade is overturned and that life prevails. Tonight, let us say a prayer for life and that our Justices remain steadfast in their convictions. Here in Alabama, we will continue fighting for the unborn.”

“The fact that liberal, pro-abortion factions took the unprecedented action of leaking the draft opinion demonstrates their desperation to preserve an unconscionable and immoral procedure that has already taken the lives of an estimated 62 million unborn children,” Ledbetter said.

U.S. Rep. Barry Moore, representing Alabama’s Second Congressional District, called the leak “astonishingly dangerous.”

“Tonight’s outrageous and unprecedented leak is astonishingly dangerous and further proof that nothing obstructing the Left’s radical agenda is safe, despite the consequences,” Moore said. “I am terribly concerned for the repercussions of this leak and the broader dangers of an ideology in which the ends always justify the means.

“Much remains unknown about this draft opinion, and even if it is authentic, justices can change positions on cases up until the last minute. But nothing can change the fact that Roe was a horrendous, politically-charged decision by an activist court with, at best, weak Constitutional footing. It is my sincere hope that Roe is overturned and this country’s tragic and shameful era of the widespread and indiscriminate legal termination of the lives of millions of unborn children can start to be brought to a close.”

The Supreme Court is expected to make a final ruling on the case some time in the next two months.

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There are currently three facilities providing abortions in Alabama: Reproductive Health Services in Montgomery, West Alabama Women’s Center in Tuscaloosa and the Alabama Women’s Center in Huntsville.

Planned Parenthood locations in Birmingham and Mobile are not currently offering abortion services, citing staffing issues, according to a report from Jezebel.

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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