ST. LOUIS — Politicians in Missouri and Illinois are responding after Politico reported about a draft opinion circulated among Supreme Court justices suggests that earlier this year a majority of them had thrown support behind overturning the 1973 case Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion nationwide.
It’s unclear if the draft represents the court’s final word on the matter.
The Associated Press could not immediately confirm the authenticity of the draft Politico posted, which if verified marks a shocking revelation of the high court’s secretive deliberation process, particularly before a case is formally decided.
The news outlet published what was labeled as a “1st Draft” of the “Opinion of the Court” in a case challenging Mississippi's ban on abortion after 15 weeks, a case known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
The Supreme Court has yet to issue a ruling in the case, and opinions — and even justices’ votes — have been known to change during the drafting process. The court is expected to rule on the case before its term is up in late June or early July.
Elected officials and candidates in Missouri and Illinois responded to the report Monday.
In a tweet, Republican U.S. Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri said "The left continues its assault on the Supreme Court with an unprecedented breach of confidentiality, clearly meant to intimidate." In a second tweet, he called the opinion in the draft "voluminously researched, tightly argued, and morally powerful."
U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat released the following statement:
“If this draft opinion becomes reality, a small group far-right Justices would be stripping away protected constitutional rights that millions of American families—including my own—have relied on for 50 years—and that 70% of Americans believe should be legal. The institution, and the Justices who claimed Roe was ‘settled law,’ will struggle to survive the stench of this decision.
“In a nation with a growing maternal mortality crisis and often inaccessible healthcare, without affordable childcare or universal paid leave, forcing births on millions of people—even when the mother’s life could be at risk—is particularly cruel. Before finalizing their decision in this case, I hope these Justices recognize that you cannot ban abortions, you can only criminalize safe abortions—and that their decision in this case could have far-reaching consequences on many, many other rights.
“I will keep working to convince my colleagues in the Senate that we must act to codify Roe v. Wade into law so that every American has equal access to basic, necessary healthcare—regardless of which state they live in, the color of their skin or the size of their income.”
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker responded to the report on Twitter saying "In Illinois, we trust women. We cannot let their most profound and personal rights be violated."
He held a press conference Tuesday morning on the matter, condemning the draft opinion.
“The terrifying implications of this decision and what it means for millions of women across the country cannot be understated,” Pritzker said in a statement released by his press office. “But let me be clear- no matter what atrocity of an opinion the Supreme Court officially rolls out this summer in regards to Roe versus Wade – abortion will always be safe and legal here in Illinois. Illinois is and will remain a beacon of hope in an increasingly dark world. I will fight like hell – not just for the women who call Illinois home, but every person in every corner of this country who deserves to live a life of their own design.”
St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, a Democrat, released the following statement:
“First they come for our bodies - then they come for voting rights, civil rights, LGBTQ rights. From the Supreme Court to the Missouri state legislature, right-wing politicians are working overtime to strip away our most personal and fundamental freedoms for their own political gain. If there was ever a time to hit the alarm and break the glass, this is it. Congress must take action to protect abortion rights and keep these bans off of our bodies.”
Billy Long, a Republican congressman running for Senate, released the following statement:
“I was a senior in high school when Roe v. Wade was decided. I didn’t understand abortion then, and I don’t understand it now. Killing an innocent human life is simply incomprehensible to me. I am optimistic that these reports are true, and that the Supreme Court will do the right thing, finally overturning this travesty of a decision. I have always stood up for the Right to Life, and will continue to do so.”
St. Louis Health Director Mati Hlatshwayo Davis released the following statement on Twitter:
"Reproductive health rights should not be in question. They are a basic human right. I am committed to working with leaders in our region to ensure that women have safe and equitable options because this pending decision WILL widen disparities in care and risk lives."
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page tweeted the following message Tuesday:
Missouri Attorney General and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Eric Schmitt tweeted "I’ve argued it in court briefings… Overturn Roe v Wade."
Lucas Kunce, a Democrat running for U.S. Senate in Missouri, said "It is fundamentally necessary that the U.S. Congress codify Roe v. Wade immediately. If they won’t, we need to replace them."
Vicky Hartzler, a Republican congresswoman running for U.S. Senate in Missouri, called the leak "outrageous & dangerous," and said "I pray & remain hopeful #SCOTUS stays true to this potential decision."
Democrat Spencer Toder, who is also running for U.S. Senate in Missouri, tweeted the following message:
Illinois Congresswoman Mary Miller, a Republican, said in a tweet that "Our Justices need your prayers to stand up to the radical abortion industry and Defend Life!"
Yamelsie Rodríguez, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, released the following statement Monday night:
“While tonight’s leaked opinion is a draft, it previews what we’ve long been preparing for — the day Roe v. Wade is overturned and the legal right to abortion comes to an end in this country. We knew this opinion was coming and while it’s not official, it brings us one step closer to an impending public health crisis.
"For now, patients seeking abortion care in Missouri and Illinois, can and should continue to show up for your appointments — abortion remains legal today. No matter what, with our partners, we will fight for what little is left of abortion access in Missouri and push forward to expand in Illinois where abortion access is protected beyond Roe.”