NY officials and activists weigh in on draft of abortion opinion

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — News organization Politico obtained a leaked draft of a Supreme Court majority opinion that, if accepted, would return the legalization of abortion to the states. The decision is not yet final.

If the majority court accepts the opinion, it would likely overturn the Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey decisions, which struck down most state abortion laws. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito appears to have written the 98-page leaked draft decision that Politico published in its entirety on Monday at 8 p.m.

“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” said the draft. “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives."

Justices could still change their vote before the decision is published. The final decision is expected to come out sometime in June.

The decision was in relation to a case challenging Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks. Tuesday morning, Chief Justice John Roberts issued the following statement, “Although the document described in yesterday’s reports is authentic, it does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case.” Roberts ordered an investigation into what he called an “egregious breach of trust."

Here’s what New York State officials and activists said about the leaked draft:

Abortion laws in New York State are unlikely to change even if the decision is finalized, said Gov. Kathy Hochul. She released the following statement Monday night:

"I am horrified by the apparent draft Supreme Court opinion leaked this evening that would overturn the right to abortion guaranteed by Roe v. Wade. For the sake of women across the country, this should not be the Supreme Court’s final opinion when it comes to abortion rights.

"We have been fighting this battle for too long. I refuse to go backwards. I refuse to let my new granddaughter have to fight for the rights generations have fought for and won, rights that she should be guaranteed.

"For anyone who needs access to care, our state will welcome you with open arms. New York will always be a place where abortion rights are protected and where abortion is safe and accessible. Just as the Statue of Liberty lifts her lamp tall in our harbor, New York will never stop fighting for what’s right — unafraid and undeterred."

Van White, a Rochester-area civil rights attorney and the president of the Rochester City School Board, spoke about what the ruling would mean for New Yorkers if it’s accepted:

"It’s not saying you cannot have an abortion," White said. "It’s saying states can do the balancing test and make a decision on their own with respect to whether a woman can have an abortion or not."

White also said the fact that a draft decision was leaked is unprecedented.

"You never heard of a decision being leaked in advance of the decision actually being finalized because what you have to understand is what we’re hearing for Politico is a draft of the decision and these drafts often go to many versions and can change somewhat dramatically before they even get published," White said. "So over the centuries, it has never been heard where the decision was released in advance."

Sarah Timmerman, the president of the Rochester Chapter of the National Organization for Women, said she is concerned about the implications for women’s rights if the decision is accepted:

"The consequences for this in terms of economical social political and every sphere of gains that women have made in this country are now at risk of going back to what they were in the ’60s because of this. And I have no doubt that other pieces are on the line such as the rights of the LGBTQ community voting rights and all the rights that are supposedly state rights."

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand released the following statement:

“The leaked draft majority opinion overturning Roe v. Wade reveals that the Supreme Court’s right-wing majority is poised to destroy the fundamental human and reproductive rights of millions of women, willfully disregarding public opinion and court precedent. While we can hold out hope for revisions, we cannot wait to act.

“At the federal level, Congress must enshrine into law the right to an abortion and Democrats must be willing to eliminate the filibuster to do so. As we approach the midterm elections, it is absolutely critical that Democrats turn out in record numbers to maintain our majorities. The American people do not support the government interfering with what people do with their own bodies.

“At the state level, Democrats must enact strong pro-choice legislation where we currently have control. In purple and red states, we must fight tooth and nail to flip legislatures and pass legislation guaranteeing reproductive rights, including access to abortion. There is no state where a majority of the public supports a federal ban on abortion.

“And with this fundamental right in jeopardy, it is incumbent upon states like New York, where abortion is safe and accessible, to open our doors to those seeking care.

“We must refuse to back down or move backwards—the lives and futures of millions of Americans depend on us acting now.”

New York Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins released the following statement:

“I am extremely troubled by the preliminary Supreme Court opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade. Unfortunately, we knew this day was coming, and that is why when we took the Senate Majority we immediately codified Roe v. Wade into state law, allowing us to withstand any Supreme Court decision. The Senate Democratic Majority will continue to stand up for choice and women’s health. New York has always stood as a beacon for those seeking refuge, and that will not change through the uncertain days ahead. We will remain a Destination State for any and all seeking abortion care. Our fight is not over. Our partners in Congress must act and choice must be codified into federal law.”

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Reactions from protestors at the Supreme Court building

Protesters rallied outside the Supreme Court Monday night, chanting after news of the draft decision broke. Some protesters were for abortion, and some were against abortion. Law enforcement put barricades outside the building to keep them from getting inside.

Pro-life groups like Americans United for Life came out in support of the decision Monday.

One protester said: “The unborn are human, and we’ve been trying them in mass to the tune of millions and settle this. I have no words. I have no words."

Another said: “I absolutely have to be out here because this is something that affects me so personally, and I’m hurt so much to know that this might be ripped away from me.”