The leaders of five Democrat committees and governing associations on Tuesday pledged to turn the midterms into a referendum on Roe v Wade, arguing that the leaked Supreme Court draft had ‘dramatically escalated the stakes of the 2022 election’.
The draft decision to overturn Roe v Wade, and return the decision about whether to allow or prohibit abortion to the individual states, was leaked to Politico on Monday night and triggered a political earthquake.
Joe Biden, asked on Tuesday what would happen if the draft decision were finalized, replied: ‘It will fall on voters to elect pro-choice officials this November.’
The leaders of five groups agreed, with a declaration of support from the heads of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Democratic Governors Association, Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee and Democratic Attorneys General Association.
‘The Republican attacks on abortion access, birth control and women’s health care have dramatically escalated the stakes of the 2022 election,’ they wrote.
‘At this moment of crisis, Democrats are standing shoulder to shoulder with millions of Americans in this fight. And in November, we must elect Democrats who will serve as the last lines of defense against the GOP’s assault on our established and fundamental freedoms.’
Pro-choice activists gather in protest outside the US Courthouse to defend abortion rights in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday
Demonstrators in Madison, Wisconsin, are seen on Tuesday demanding Roe v Wade be upheld
Activists in LA demand that Roe v Wade be upheld on Tuesday – the day after the draft decision leaked
The five leaders said that the midterms ‘will now determine whether cruel new restrictions on abortion will be put in place,’ noting that some states may well criminalize abortion and ban it even in cases of rape or incest.
‘We want to make this very clear: Abortion is legal. It is your right,’ they said.
‘And the Democratic Party will fight to ensure this fundamental freedom remains intact.
‘For voters, the consequences of the election for the future of our country have never been higher.’
The Democratic-controlled Congress and White House both vowed to try to blunt the impact of such a ruling, but their prospects looked dim.
Speaking to reporters before boarding Air Force One, Biden said he hoped the draft would not be finalized by justices, and warned it reflects a ‘fundamental shift in American jurisprudence’ that threatens ‘other basic rights’ like access to birth control and marriage.
‘If this decision holds, it’s really quite a radical decision,’ he added.
‘If the court does overturn Roe, it will fall on our nation’s elected officials at all levels of government to protect a woman’s right to choose,’ Biden said.
‘And it will fall on voters to elect pro-choice officials this November.
‘At the federal level, we will need more pro-choice Senators and a pro-choice majority in the House to adopt legislation that codifies Roe, which I will work to pass and sign into law.’
President Joe Biden vowed the White House would be ‘ready’ whenever the Supreme Court did deliver an opinion on Roe v. Wade
Biden is seen on Tuesday in Alabama, visiting a weapons facility to tout U.S. support for the Ukrainian war effort. Before his arrival, he was asked about Roe v Wade
Though past efforts have failed, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he intended to hold a vote.
‘This is as urgent and real as it gets,’ Schumer said on the Senate floor on Tuesday.
‘Every American is going to see on which side every senator stands.’
On Monday night, the Democratic leaders of Congress released a joint statement calling the leaked opinion as an ‘abomination’ and accusing the high court’s conservatives of ‘ripping up the Constitution.’
Speaking at the EMILY’s List political action committee conference on Tuesday, Vice President Kamala Harris said the draft opinion showed ‘women’s rights in America are under attack.’
In a passionate speech, her voice rising to a crescendo, she repeatedly asked: ‘How dare they?’
She added: ‘Women’s issues are America’s issues and democracies cannot be strong if the rights of women are under attack.
‘Let us fight with everything we’ve got.’
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other conservative lawmakers cheered the potential ruling, meanwhile – while calling for investigations and even criminal charges for the source of the historic leak.
Schumer condemned former President Donald Trump and the Republican lawmakers who aided him in getting three conservative justices onto the Supreme Court, to form its decisive right-wing majority.
‘This is a dark and disturbing morning for America,’ Schumer said.
‘Under this decision, our children will have less rights than their parents.’
He continued: ‘These conservative justices who are in no way accountable to the American people have lied to the US Senate, ripped up the Constitution, and defiled both precedent and the Supreme Court’s reputation.
‘The party of Lincoln and Eisenhower has completely devolved into the party of Trump.’
McConnell returned fire, criticizing Biden, Pelosi and Schumer’s statements as ‘disgraceful.’
‘The disgraceful statements by President Biden, Speaker Pelosi, and Leader Schumer refuse to defend judicial independence and the rule of law and instead play into this toxic spectacle.
‘Real leaders should defend the Court’s independence unconditionally,’ McConnell said.
Leaders in New York and California rolled out the welcome mat to their states for women seeking abortions, and other Democratic states moved to protect access to abortion in their laws.
The court’s ruling would be most acutely felt by women who don’t have the means or ability to travel from states that have or stand poised to pass stiff abortion restrictions or outright bans
Kamala Harris is seen on Tuesday speaking at the Emily’s List conference in Washington DC
The 26 states where abortion will likely become illegal if SCOTUS overturns Roe vs Wade
The 26 states where abortion will likely become illegal if SCOTUS overturns Roe vs Wade after leaked draft opinion showed a majority of justices supported the move
More than half of all US states have some kind of abortion ban law likely to take effect if Roe v Wade is overturned by the United States Supreme Court.
According to the pro-reproductive rights group The Guttmacher Institute, there are 26 states that will likely make abortions illegal if the Supreme Court overturns the landmark 1973 ruling.
18 have existing abortion bans that have previously been ruled unconstitutional, four have time limit bans and four are likely to pass laws if Roe v Wade is overturned, the organization found.
The 18 states that have near-total bans on abortion already on the books are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
In addition, Georgia, Iowa, Ohio, and South Carolina all have laws that ban abortions after the six-week mark.
Florida, Indiana, Montana and Nebraska, are likely to pass bills when Roe v Wade is overturned, the Guttmacher Institute said.
Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin’s bans all have pre-Roe v Wade laws that became unenforceable after the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision – that would kick into effect if the federal legal precedent established in Roe were overturned.
Arkansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Texas have further bans that will come into effect if the law was overturned. These were passed post-Roe v Wade.
They’re joined by Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming, in passing such laws.
The states that will limit abortions based on the length of time a patient has been pregnant are Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, North Dakota and Ohio.
There are four states that have laws that state abortion is not a constitutionally protected right: Alabama, Louisiana, Texas and West Virginia.
Whatever the outcome, the Politico report late Monday represented an extremely rare breach of the court’s secretive deliberation process, and on a case of surpassing importance.
‘Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,’ the draft opinion states.
It was signed by Justice Samuel Alito, a member of the court’s 6-3 conservative majority who was appointed by former President George W. Bush.
The document was labeled a ‘1st Draft’ of the ‘Opinion of the Court’ in a case challenging Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks.
The draft opinion in effect states there is no constitutional right to abortion services.
It would allow individual states to more heavily regulate or outright ban the procedure.
‘We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,’ it states, referencing the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey that affirmed Roe’s finding of a constitutional right to abortion services but allowed states to place some constraints on the practice.
‘It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.’
The draft opinion strongly suggests that when the justices met in private shortly after arguments in the case on December 1, at least five — all the conservatives except perhaps Chief Justice Roberts — voted to overrule Roe and Casey, and Alito was assigned the task of writing the court’s majority opinion.
Votes and opinions in a case aren’t final until a decision is announced or, in a change wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, posted on the court’s website.
The report comes amid a legislative push to restrict abortion in several Republican-led states — Oklahoma being the most recent — even before the court issues its decision.
Critics of those measures have said low-income and minority women will disproportionately bear the burden of the new restrictions.
The leak jumpstarted the intense political reverberations that the high court’s ultimate decision was expected to have in the midterm election year.
Already, politicians on both sides of the aisle were seizing on the report to fundraise and energize their supporters on both sides of the issue.
Polling shows relatively few Americans want to see Roe overturned.
In general, AP-NORC polling finds a majority of the public favors abortion being legal in most or all cases.
Few say abortion should be illegal in all cases.
Still, Americans have nuanced attitudes on the issue.
In an AP-NORC poll conducted last June, 61 percent said abortion should be legal in most or all circumstances in the first trimester of a pregnancy.
Supporters of abortion rights and anti-abortion rights protesters gather for a protest at the Indiana Federal Courthouse in Indianapolis on Tuesday
Republican appointed-Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett all voted to strike down Roe with Samuel Alito, Politico noted
However, 65 percent said abortion should usually be illegal in the second trimester, and 80 percent said that about the third trimester, though many Americans believe that the procedure should be allowable under at least some circumstances even during the second or third trimesters.
Outside, the Supreme Court building, anti-abortion rights protesters carried signs 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.’
Outside Washington, the reaction among conservatives was muted, ranging from cautious celebration over the anticipated ruling to sharp criticism of the source of the leaked draft.
‘We will let the Supreme Court speak for itself and wait for the court’s official opinion,’ Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch said in a statement.
Twenty-six states are certain or likely to ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned, according to the pro-abortion rights think tank the Guttmacher Institute.
Of those, 22 states already have total or near-total bans on the books that are currently blocked by Roe, aside from Texas.
The Texas law banning it after six weeks has been allowed to go into effect by the Supreme Court due to its unusual civil enforcement structure.
Four more states are considered likely to quickly pass bans if Roe is overturned.
Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have protected access to abortion in state law.
Democrats SLAM Supreme Court’s draft decision overturning Roe v. Wade – as Republicans celebrate
Following the news that Justice Samuel Alito penned a draft opinion in February repudiating both Roe vs. Wade and the 1992 Planned Parenthood vs. Casey decision, prominent Democrats have vowed to fight it.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders demanded Congress pass legislation that codifies abortion rights into law – and potentially end the filibuster to pass that bill, while Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren branded the Supreme Court as ‘extremist.’
Several Democratic governors, like New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, also vowed to protect abortion rights in their state, with Hochul writing: ‘I refuse to let my new granddaughter have to fight for the rights that generations have fought for and won.’
Meanwhile, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy dubbed it a ‘truly dark day in America,’ and California Gov. Gavin Newsom vowed to ‘fight like hell.
‘Our daughters, sisters, mothers and grandmothers will not be silenced,’ he tweeted.
Feminist attorney Gloria Allred wrote: ‘If the leaked draft opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade becomes the final opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court, then countless women and girls will die or be maimed from illegal, unsafe abortions. Urge SCOTUS to support Roe v. Wade and stop endangering women.’
Prominent Democrats have taken to Twitter to condemn a draft decision overturning Roe v. Wade
Republicans, though, seemed excited by the news – but still remained wary of the decision to leak the draft decision.
Sen. Josh Hawley wrote that the leak of Alito’s decision was ‘an unprecedented breach of confidentiality, clearly meant to intimidate.
‘The Justices mustn’t give in to this attempt to corrupt the process,’ he wrote, urging them to ‘stay strong.’
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio also questioned the motives behind the leak, writing Monday night: ‘The next time you hear the far left preaching about how they are fighting to preserve our Republic’s institutions and norms, remember how they leaked a Supreme Court opinion in an attempt to intimidate.’
And controversial North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn asked for prayers for the end of Roe v. Wade, writing: ‘Evil MUST not triumph.
‘Science, common sense and LIFE will win.’
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, meanwhile, questioned why the opinion was leaked