Data News Staff Edited Report
Last week news that the US Supreme Court is on the verge of overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion ruling are raising many questions about the implications of such a momentous decision and exactly how we got to this point in legal history.
The draft document, which was leaked to Politico revealed potentially that a majority of the Supreme Court is prepared to overrule the Roe case, which legalized abortion nationwide nearly 50 years ago.
For the purpose of educating our readers, here is a rundown on the background of the ruling and what effect such a decision could have on abortion rights across the country:
What is Roe v. Wade?
The historic Roe v. Wade decision from 1973 legalized the right to have an abortion until the point when a fetus can survive outside the womb — roughly 24 weeks.
Under the high court ruling, states have been able to regulate, but not ban, abortion before the point of viability.
What does the leaked SCOTUS draft opinion say?
The leaked draft opinion says that a majority of the Supreme Court is prepared to overrule the Roe v. Wade decision.
The opinion states there is no constitutional right to abortion and argues that “Roe was a wrong decision from the start.”
As this decision hang in the balance, if the court does what the draft suggests, it will give states the power to decide whether to ban or heavily regulate abortions going forward.
Why is this all happening now?
As the impact of the Trump Presidency and its impact on the Judiciary is being felt with the appointment of more conservative judges not only on Roe v. Wade, but a move towards states to enact other items on their agenda that include more restrictive voting.
The leaked document — labeled a “1st Draft” of the “Opinion of the Court” — is dated from February and was written by Justice Samuel Alito, a member of the court’s 6-3 conservative majority who was appointed by President George W. Bush.
The document appears to be based on an oral argument heard in December regarding Mississippi’s bid to revive its ban on abortion after 15 weeks.
The draft opinion suggests that when the Supreme Court justices met privately soon after hearing arguments in the Mississippi case on Dec. 1st, at least five voted to overrule Roe and Casey.
What does it mean if Roe v. Wade is overturned?
Twenty-six states are certain or likely to restrict abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a New York-based pro-choice think tank.
Of those, twenty-two states already have total or near-total abortion restrictions that would kick in as soon as Roe v. Wade falls: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.