Supporters of abortion rights reacted with outrage to the leak on Monday night of a supreme court decision overturning Roe v Wade, the 1973 ruling which has safeguarded the right till now.
According to Politico, the draft ruling, written by Samuel Alito, is supported by Clarence Thomas and the three conservative justices appointed by Donald Trump: Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.
It would also overturn Planned Parenthood v Casey, a 1992 decision which upheld Roe.
Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House, said: “If the report is accurate, the supreme court is poised to inflict the greatest restriction of rights in the past 50 years – not just on women but on all Americans.
“The Republican-appointed justices’ reported votes to overturn Roe v Wade would go down as an abomination, one of the worst and most damaging decisions in modern history,” Pelosi said.
“Several of 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.”
Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts senator and former candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, said an “extremist supreme court” was poised to “impose its far-right, unpopular views on the entire country.
“It’s time for the millions who support the constitution and abortion rights to stand up and make their voices heard,” she said. “We’re not going back – not ever.”
If confirmed, the ruling would make abortion rights a state matter. As many as 26 Republican-run states are poised to end or restrict access.
Congress could codify Roe into law but it would require scrapping the filibuster, the Senate rule that requires a 60-vote majority for most legislation. That seems unlikely, given the 50-50 split in the chamber and opposition from moderate Democrats such as Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
Republican senators including Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who have expressed concern over abortion rights, were slower to react to the Politico report than their Democratic counterparts. Their support would be needed for filibuster reform.
Among progressives, outrage was fierce.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the New York congresswoman, tied her outrage to calls for Senate reform and to impeach Thomas, the senior conservative on the court, over the political activities of his wife around the January 6 insurrection.
Ocasio-Cortez also warned of possible court moves on other hitherto protected rights.
“[The court] isn’t just coming for abortion – they’re coming for the right to privacy Roe rests on, which includes gay marriage and civil rights.
“Manchin is blocking Congress codifying Roe. House has seemingly forgotten about Clarence Thomas. These two points must change.”
Ocasio-Cortez also took aim at Joe Biden, calling for the use of executive actions.
“People elected Democrats precisely so we could lead in perilous moments like these – to codify Roe, hold corruption accountable and have a president who uses his legal authority to break through congressional gridlock on items from student debt to climate. It’s high time we do it.
“If we don’t, what message does that send? We can’t sit around, finger-point and hand-wring as people’s futures and equality are on the line. It’s time to be decisive, lead with confidence, fight for a prosperous future for all and protect the vulnerable. Leave it all on the field.”
Campaigners were equally vocal.
The National Women’s Law Center called the “language in the draft opinion … outrageous, irresponsible and shocking”. Alexis McGill Johnson, president of the women’s health provider Planned Parenthood, called the draft ruling “horrifying and unprecedented”.
Laphonza Butler, president of the advocacy group Emily’s List, pointed to the effect the draft ruling could have on Democratic campaigning and turnout in the November midterm elections.
“For years, anti-choice politicians have worked overtime to strip away our fundamental rights and give government control of critical healthcare decisions. They are working to ban abortion, full stop. This was the plan all along.
“It’s past time to vote out every official who stands against the pro-choice majority.
“We will fight harder than ever to make them pay, by electing more Democratic pro-choice women at all levels of government who will protect our rights and ensure that our abortion rights do not depend on our zip code or our financial situation. And we will work to vote every one of them out.”
Cecile Richards, formerly president of Planned Parenthood, pointed to polling which shows clear support for abortion rights.
“This is not what the American people want,” she said. “This is Republican politicians putting government in charge of your pregnancy. Full-stop.”