By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
The startling news about the U.S. Supreme Court’s draft decision to overturn the half-century-old Roe V. Wade law immediately stirred debate over how the document leaked to Politico.
And while that debate dominates the conversation, the importance of the potential ruling and the accompanying repercussions were front and center for women’s rights groups, civil rights advocates, and many Democratic lawmakers.
“The leaked SCOTUS opinion on Roe V Wade will set women’s rights back generations,” Illinois Democratic Congresswoman Robin Kelly asserted.
“Black women and those living in rural areas will be worst impacted,” Kelly determined. “We must codify the right to safe abortions.”
Marcela Howell, president, and CEO of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, cautioned that until the decision is final, abortion remains legal.
“That said, we know that overturning the historic Roe decision after 50 years of legal precedent will be a blow to women’s human and civil rights,” Howell stated.
“Black women and pregnant people already face barriers to accessing basic health care services and the Supreme Court’s rumored decision to overturn Roe will put our reproductive health, rights, and safety in even greater danger. The high court’s ruling will declare open season on women’s rights and lives.”
“As Black women, our fight has always been — and continues to be — about the human right to control our body, our work, and our community.
On May 2, Politico reported that it viewed an initial draft of a majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito circulating inside the court.
The ruling would allow each state to decide whether to restrict or ban abortion. According to Politico, it’s unclear if there have been subsequent changes to the draft.
The news outlet wrote that 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.
“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Alito writes.
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” he writes in the document, labeled as the “Opinion of the Court.”
“I’m enraged,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot wrote in a statement.
“Chicago will continue to be a haven for those seeking access to the full range of safe reproductive care,” Lightfoot promised.
“For poor and working-class women, a disproportionate number of whom are Black and brown, overturning Roe won’t mean that abortions will end. It will mean that safe and sound abortions in health-care facilities will move further out of reach,” author and Princeton University Professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor wrote in an essay for the New Yorker.
She pointed to one study that found that 80 percent of deaths caused by septic abortions in New York City in the 1960s involved Black and Puerto Rican women.
Between 1965 and 1967, the Black maternal death rate in Georgia was fourteen times that of white women.
“During this period, nurses reported that ‘sticks, rocks, chopsticks, rubber or plastic tubes, gauze or cotton packing, ballpoint pens, coat hangers, or knitting needles’ were administered to terminate pregnancies,” Taylor reminded.
“For these women, access to abortion was not abstract—it was a matter of life and death,” she continued.
Overturning Roe v. Wade would greenlight the 26 states that already have laws banning abortions.
Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have passed laws explicitly permitting abortions.