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Arizona political leaders react to reported SCOTUS draft on Roe v. Wade

The draft, written by Justice Samuel Alito, would strike down the historic Roe v. Wade case.
Published: May. 2, 2022 at 8:29 PM MST|Updated: May. 3, 2022 at 6:11 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- One of the country’s most prominent Supreme Court decisions could be overturned, according to an initial draft opinion obtained by Politico. The draft, written by Justice Samuel Alito, would strike down the historic Roe v. Wade case.

The draft reportedly started circulating three months ago. In the draft, Justice Alito writes that Roe was “egregiously wrong from the start,” according to Politico. The Supreme Court is not commenting on the leaked draft, and legal experts say it was unprecedented. Major decisions can have multiple drafts and changes can be made days before the court releases an official decision.

The draft comes as many states, including Arizona, are passing stricter abortion laws. In late March, Gov. Doug Ducey passed an abortion law bill that would prohibit doctors from performing an abortion after 15 weeks unless it’s a medical emergency. Doctors who perform an abortion past the 15 weeks without a medical emergency would be violating the bill and could be charged with a class 6 felony if they are convicted and have their license suspended. Women who receive an abortion after 15 weeks will not face any charges. However, the bill does not have any exceptions for rape or incest cases.

Ducey is an abortion opponent who has signed every piece of anti-abortion legislation that has reached his desk since he took office in 2015. He said late last year that he hoped the Supreme Court overturns the Roe v. Wade decision that enshrined the right to abortion. According to the Arizona Department of Health Services 2020 abortion report, over 13,000 abortions were reported in Arizona. 92% of the abortions performed were under 14 weeks of pregnancy.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego tweeted if the draft opinion is true it would be “devastating to women. Our bodies are our own. Elections matter.” Democratic Rep. Greg Stanton also tweeted about the opinion, stating, “It’s outrageous the Supreme Court appears poised to overturn the right to an abortion. I’ll always stand up for a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions, and that includes the choice to have an abortion.”

Some Arizona lawmakers are reacting to the draft opinion, including state Rep. Athena Salman. Salman, a Democrat from Tempe, released a statement after the report on Monday night:

“The draft opinion in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization obtained today signals the terrifying potential that the Supreme Court – stacked with activist judges hellbent on imposing their religious conservative extremism on our bodies – intend to overturn Roe v. Wade and allow state bans on abortion and birth control to go into effect,” Salman said. “For the fifth year in a row, legislation I sponsored to repeal Arizona’s ban on abortion and birth control (HB2097) didn’t even receive a hearing. Instead, the radical right controlling the legislature passed another ban on abortion further jeopardizing the freedoms of every Arizonan.

“As it stands, Roe is still the law of the land, and abortion should be safe, legal and affordable. Our freedom to decide if and when to start or grow a family is under attack, and while we can’t speculate on the final opinion, I condemn any attempt to undermine this fundamental right.”

Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego said while he didn’t know what the high court’s opinion will be, “we do know that women have had the right to control their own reproductive choices for almost 50 years. Republicans will strip those rights away if given the chance. Extremism is their new normal.”

The Center for Arizona Policy, a nonprofit conservative lobbying group, is calling for severe consequences after the report.

“It is totally unprecedented and inexcusable for someone to leak a U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion to the press. It is wrong on every level, and I expect swift and serious consequences.

If the draft is authentic, which it appears to be, it is a first draft written by Justice Samuel Alito in February. Since that date, the other justices would have made comments with possible suggestions to the draft opinion. We do not have those additions and should approach any response with caution.

If the opinion holds, there will be reason and time to comment and celebrate, but we must take a wait and see approach to this unprecedented development until there is an actual opinion released by the Court.

If the Court does overturn Roe, it will be a great victory for innocent life and women spared the emotional and physical harms of abortion. Roe made Arizona’s law prohibiting abortion except to save the life of the mother unenforceable. An overturning of Roe should result in that law being enforceable once again. The pro-life movement in this state will be ready to serve women facing unplanned pregnancies and their babies.”

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema also released a statement on Tuesday morning about the draft opinion, stating “a woman’s health care choices should be between her, her family, and her doctor. Overturning Roe v. Wade endangers the health and wellbeing of women in Arizona and across America.” Sinema added that she has continuously supported women’s access to health care during her tenure.

The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision protects women’s rights to an abortion. The court issued a 7-2 decision ruling that the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause provided a right to privacy that protects a pregnant woman’s right to choose whether or not she wishes to have an abortion.

The final opinion has not been released and the draft may change. Reports suggest that the formal opinion is not expected until late June.