On Monday, Politico reported that the U.S. Supreme Court may intend to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which obtained a draft majority opinion of the pending ruling. The high court is expected to announce their decision within the next two months, ruling on a case brought by Mississippi that seeks to ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
The draft opinion is authentic, said Chief Justice John Roberts in a statement on Tuesday, as he ordered an investigation into how the document was leaked. Roberts said the document “does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case.” Roberts called the leak a “betrayal of the confidences of the Court.”
Abortion laws vary by state. Some states require abortion seekers to wait a minimum time period between in-person counseling and their procedure, a measure that proponents argue is necessary to ensure that women are 100% sure they want to go ahead with a procedure. Opponents say waiting has shown to lead to riskier second-trimester abortions.
“Most states restrict abortion at a specific point during pregnancy, which normally lasts 40 weeks since the last menstrual period (LMP). In recent years, however, some state policymakers have attempted to provoke a Supreme Court challenge by banning abortion before viability,” the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive-health think tank that supports abortion rights, said.
Clinic regulations and ‘trigger laws’
Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming have laws that would “trigger” a ban on abortion if the ruling was overturned. Meanwhile, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Wisconsin have laws banning abortion that predate and/or post-date Roe v. Wade.
Many Republican states have focus on the regulation of clinics as a way to limit abortion access. “Some 23 states have laws or policies that regulate abortion providers …all apply to clinics that perform surgical abortion, while 13 states’ regulations apply to physicians’ offices where abortions are performed,” the Guttmacher Institute added.
These imposed regulations on both clinics and people who provide abortions include specifications dictating the size of an abortion-procedure room or a facility’s distance from a hospital, and requirements for an abortion provider’s certifications or hospital affiliations. Critics of such regulations argue that they go beyond necessary patient-safety measures.
C. Nicole Mason, President and CEO of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a nonprofit that supports abortions rights, said, “Numerous state legislatures stand ready to ban abortion outright if Roe is overturned, leaving women in those states — especially low-income women and women of color — without access to this most basic of reproductive health services.”
Low-income women will bear the brunt of Roe v. Wade ruling being overturned, as they will be least able to travel to seek an abortion if they live in a state where access to abortion is restricted. Roughly half of women who have abortions live below the federal poverty level, with 75% of them being classified as low income, up from 27% in 2000.
The ramifications of a widespread abortion ban go beyond the cost of an abortion, Mason said. “The potential overturn of Roe will inflict enormous damage to women’s equality,” she added. “But it will also dramatically impact the ability of women to participate fully in the American economy by reducing their labor force participation, cutting into their earnings, and increasing turnover.”
Different opinions on abortion
The anti-abortion group National Right to Life acknowledges that financial considerations are a factor for women seeking abortions, but says that’s not a reason for a termination. Republican lawmakers say they oppose “taxpayer-funded abortion,” and anti-abortion groups say the unborn have a right to life on moral and religious grounds.
Some abortion opponents believe abortion is wrong under any circumstances, while others believe it can be acceptable in cases of rape, incest or in cases when a woman’s life is at risk. Focus on the Family, a Christian ministry based in Colorado, says life begins at conception, and equates the protection of the unborn to the protection of the physically and mentally challenged.
Politicians, meanwhile, reacted to the leaked Supreme Court document, their respective positions aligning along party lines. “Our daughters, sisters, mothers, and grandmothers will not be silenced. The world is about to hear their fury,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, wrote on Twitter. “California will not sit back. We are going to fight like hell.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, responded quite differently to her Democratic peers, blaming the leak of the court’s draft. “This unprecedented leak is concerning, outrageous and a blatant attempt to manipulate the sacred procedures of the U.S. Supreme Court. Those responsible should be held accountable. My prayer is that Roe v. Wade is overturned and that life prevails.”
Related: How American politics created a tribal culture on moral issues: ‘40 years ago, if I told you that this person supports abortion, you wouldn’t be able to tell how they felt about taxes, health care and immigration’