LGBTQ+ rights activists are joining many other Americans in outrage over the news that the U.S. Supreme Court has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
An initial draft opinion written by right-wing Justice Samuel Alito is being circulated among the justices and was obtained by Politico, which reported on the matter Monday night. The ruling is not final and could change before it is issued, likely within the next two months, but if the court does indeed overturn Roe, it has grave implications not only for abortion rights but for other rights rooted in privacy, such as the rights to contraception, private sexual activity, and marriage equality.
Alito and fellow conservative Justice Clarence Thomas have said they'd like to overturn the marriage equality ruling, and Alito's opinion critiques that ruling and the Lawrence v. Texas ruling that invalidated sodomy laws.
The opinion comes in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which involves a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The court heard the case in December.
“The draft opinion is a full-throated, unflinching repudiation of the 1973 decision which guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights and a subsequent 1992 decision — Planned Parenthood v. Casey — that largely maintained the right,” Politico reports.
Four conservative justices — Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett, and Brett Kavanaugh — have voted to side with Alito, forming a majority, a source told Politico. Liberal justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Stephen Breyer are working on dissents. The position that Chief Justice John Roberts will take remains unknown. One or more of the justices could still change his or her vote before the ruling becomes final, although that appears unlikely.
Alito’s draft opinion, dated February 10, says that “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start” and that the right to regulate abortion should lie with each state. “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives,” Alito writes.
About half the states, mostly in the South and Midwest, are poised to outlaw abortion immediately if Roe is overturned, Politico notes. Any state could still legally allow abortion, and Democratic-majority states most likely would.
Several LGBTQ+ rights groups and individuals quickly issued statements or tweets expressing outrage. “Abortion is healthcare. Abortion is essential. Abortion is a fundamental human right,” said a statement from Tony Hoang, executive director of Equality California. “There is nothing the Supreme Court can do to change that. There is nothing five or six justices can do to stop people from needing and seeking abortion care. What they can do — and what overturning Roe will do — is cost people their lives and livelihoods. Women. Transgender and nonbinary people. Our mothers and sisters and friends and neighbors and colleagues. Shame on us if we let this stand. We must organize, mobilize and vote like our lives depend on it. Because they do.”