What is Roe v. Wade? The historic abortion ruling the US Supreme Court wants to overrule

May 3 2022, 4:47 pm

A bombshell draft leak from the US Supreme Court is causing outrage as it aims to overturn the historic Roe v. Wade decision.

The majority opinion draft was penned by Justice Samuel Alito and addressed to eight Supreme Court justices, including the Chief Justice.

It seeks to reverse the historic 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which allowed women seeking an abortion the autonomy to do so without excessive government intervention.

What is Roe v. Wade?

In the late ’60s, young mom Norma McCorvey became pregnant with her third child and sought an abortion. She was in Texas and couldn’t find a clinic that would offer to perform an abortion for her legally.

After trying different ways to get an abortion, including a desperate story about being raped (which she later revealed was a fabrication), McCorvey fought a case against district attorney Henry Wade. She used the alias “Jane Roe.”

It took the court three years of trials to reach a decision; states could no longer ban abortion individually. After this, Jane Roe revealed her true identity.

Since then, several subsequent cases have quoted the ruling in support of abortion rights. The 1992 decision of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which also makes an appearance in the leaked court draft, used the 1973 decision to further relax the rights of those seeking an abortion, and loosen the standards that qualify an abortion request as legal.

The draft, exposed:

In the draft that has set the bar and bench on fire since it was leaked, Justice Alito blatantly remarks that Roe was “egregiously wrong from the start,” calling its reasoning “exceptionally weak” and saying it led to “damaging consequences.”

Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division,” he adds.

Justice Alito also touches on the Planned Parenthood v. Casey judgement, when at least four US Justices agreed to strike down Roe v. Wade, but ultimately could not.

On Monday night, hours after the Politico article went up, the Supreme Court of The US (SCOTUS) tweeted about the document, saying it is “almost certainly authentic” but “does not reflect the comments or reactions of other Justices.”

“The State of Mississippi asks us to uphold the constitutionality of a law that generally prohibits an abortion after the fifteenth week of pregnancy — several weeks before the point at which a fetus is now regarded as “viable” outside the womb,” states the draft. “In defending this law, the State’s primary argument is that we should reconsider and overrule Roe and Casey and once again allow each State to regulate abortion as its citizens wish.”

“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” it concludes.

This is the first time that a draft of such gravity has been leaked to the public before a verdict. SCOTUS has also received public backlash for deprioritizing the matter at hand by calling the leak “the gravest, most unforgivable sin.”

Human rights advocates and pro-choice activists argue that the content of the draft is far graver in contrast.

One of the currently pending cases that use Roe v. Wade as a stepping stone is Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. It has been filed against the Gestational Age Act of Mississippi.

The Act passed as a bill in March of 2018, bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, except in cases where the pregnancy could cause a medical emergency or certain fetal abnormalities were detected.

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