According to a draft opinion obtained by Politico, the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade intends to reverse that, and lets states impose their own restrictions on the process.
If this draft reflects the court’s final decision, which was expected this summer, it would virtually eliminate abortion access in Texas. Last year, the legislature passed a so-called “trigger law” that would take effect 30 days after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, making abortion a felony.
The law would only make an exception if they were to save the life of a pregnant patient or if they risk a “substantial impairment of major bodily function”. If doctors perform abortions in violation of the law, they can face life imprisonment and a fine of up to $100,000.
It is not clear how much the court’s final decision will affect the draft opinion, whose publication is unprecedented in court history.
The case before the US Supreme Court focuses on a ban on abortion after 15 weeks in Mississippi. Since the 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade, the court has consistently banned abortion before viability, at which point there is a possibility of the fetus surviving outside the womb, usually as early as 22 to 24 weeks of pregnancy. is seen in. The 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey Roe v. Wade and ruled that states cannot enforce restrictions that create an “unreasonable burden” on pregnant people seeking abortions.
But with this Mississippi case, the court and its new conservative majority voted in Roe v. Agreed to reconsider the precedent set by Wade. While some court watchers predicted they might uphold the 15-week ban but leave out aspects of the precedent, this draft opinion indicates they intended to remove both Roe and Casey. .
“We believe that Roe and Casey should be dismissed,” the draft obtained by Politico read. “It is time to pay attention to the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the elected representatives of the people.”
This draft does not change anything about the legal status of abortion in Texas at this time. The state, through a unique civil enforcement mechanism, has banned abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, which have so far faced judicial review.
Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of Whole Women’s Health, which operates four clinics in Texas, said they’ve been providing abortions until that six-week mark since the Texas law took effect on Sept. It’s legal. He said it is important for people to understand that this is not a final decision.
“When news like this comes out, it confuses and scares people, and I think there are people who will read these stories and think abortion is already illegal,” Hagstrom Miller said. said. “I think it’s important for us to talk to these people and let them know that this is not going to last, and at least for now we can still provide them with the care they deserve.”
Anti-abortion anti-abortion in Texas is cautiously optimistic about the release of this draft ruling. Joe Pozman, executive director of the Texas Alliance for Life, said it was “encouraging,” but he’s still holding his breath.
“We’ve been burned before,” said Pozman, “I’m waiting to see the final opinion.”
In 1992, then-Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Conservative, indicated that he was going to vote with a court majority to overturn Row in Planned Parenthood v. Then he changed his mind, and the court voted to uphold the verdict.
“Assuming that the draft is valid, I am reminding myself that this is far from the final opinion of the court,” Pozman said. “So that’s encouraging, but it’s not at all certain in my mind.”
John Seago, the legislative director of Texas Right to Life, said the fight “isn’t over yet.”
“It was probably leaked to put pressure on the judges, taking a step back from this clear victory for the pro-life side,” he said. “That’s what we’re worried about, and [we] Until we actually release the final opinion, we’re not going to celebrate fully.”
University of Texas law professor Liz Seper also cautioned against certainty in the wake of the leak, reiterating that this February 10 draft may not reflect the court’s current or final opinion. But based on the case’s oral arguments in December, she said it was not surprising that several judges supported the outright disapproval of Roe v. Wade.
“This would effectively end abortion access in the United States, at least in people’s home states,” she said. “For people in the southern states and the Midwest, this would mean a very long distance to travel to reach abortion.”
More than half of all states are expected to ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is reversed. According to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion advocacy research group, this would mean that the average Texan would have to drive 525 miles each way to obtain an abortion.
Sepper said politicians on both sides of the aisle will watch the response to the draft closely as they prepare to respond to this summer’s decision.
Former Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis said she hopes Democrats, who are struggling in the election, to capitalize on the outrage arising from the draft.
“Our anger is not going to do us any good at all if we don’t cast our vote behind it,” he said. “And if Democrats can’t use that to their advantage in this election cycle, then something is broken.”
Abby Livingston contributed to this story.
Disclosure: Planned Parenthood and Politico have been financial supporters of the Texas Tribune, a non-profit, non-partisan news organization funded in part by donations from members, foundations, and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no part in the journalism of the Tribune. Find their full list here.
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