The Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, according to a leaked initial draft of the ruling obtained by Politico.
In Texas, where a trigger law is set in place for the very day that happens, abortion would become illegal.
House Bill 1280 would take effect 30 days after the repeal of Roe v. Wade.
Doctors would be prohibited from performing an abortion unless the patient is at risk of death, or serious risk of losing a “major bodily function” without an abortion.
Doctors who break the law, which makes no exception for rape or incest, could be charged with a $100,000 civil penalty for each violation and be charged with a first degree felony if the “unborn child dies,” potentially facing between 5 years and a life sentence in jail.
Texas is joined by at least 21 other states that have similar trigger laws in place. Likewise, according to the Guttmacher Institute, at least 26 states are certain or likely to ban abortion without Roe v. Wade.
But abortion is not illegal yet. The Supreme Court has not made a published ruling. The leaked draft is dated February 2022. According to Politico, a decision is likely within the next two months.
“We do not know whether this draft is genuine, or whether it reflects the final decision of the Court,” President Joe Biden said in a White House statement on Tuesday.
(According to Chief Justice John Roberts, the draft is authentic and an investigation is being launched into the source of the leak.)
Biden said a woman’s right to choose is fundamental and that following the passage of SB 8 in Texas, he directed White House counsel to prepare options in response to the continued attacks on abortion and reproductive rights.
“We will be ready when any ruling is issued,” Biden said.
“… if the Court does overturn Roe, it will fall on our nation’s elected officials at all levels of government to protect a woman’s right to choose,” Biden said. “And it will fall on voters to elect pro-choice officials this November. At the federal level, we will need more pro-choice Senators and a pro-choice majority in the House to adopt legislation that codifies Roe, which I will work to pass and sign into law.”
In response to the drafted ruling, abortion funds in the Lone Star State are calling on Texans to keep their abortion appointments or to schedule one if needed.
Frontera Fund, a Rio Grande Valley abortion fund that recently made headlines for helping free Lizelle Herrera — a Harlinger woman mysteriously arrested and charged with murder over a self-induced abortion — said they will continue to protect the rights of pregnant people and guard them from criminilziation.
“A supreme court decision to overturn ROE v. WADE will crumble the foundations of our democracy and indicates a political movement designed to further impoverish, criminalize, and incarcerate our people,” said Rockie Gonzalez, founder and board chair of Frontera Fund. “Cases like Lizelle Herrera’s will become commonplace and seeking medical care will become unsafe.”
Executive Director Aimee Arrambide of Avow Texas, an abortion rights advoacy group, said half the country could soon face the crisis Texans have been facing for eight months with Senate Bill 8.
“We want to remind people that abortion is still legal in most of the country, but the leaked opinion from the Supreme Court proves what abortion advocates in red states already knew: the state of abortion access is about to get worse before it gets better,” Arrambide said. “We need to be clear in naming what these decisions are rooted in – white supremacy – and who will be impacted the most when the Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade – it will be Black, Indigenous, people of color, disabled folks, trans people, minors, and low-income communities. Abortion advocates in red states are resilient, we’re committed to fighting back, but it’s going to be difficult and we will need our communities’ support more than ever.”
Diana Gómez, advocacy director at Progress Texas said the ruling would overturn nearly 50 years of precedent guaranteeing the right to abortion.
“This attack on abortion doesn’t end with Roe — criminalization is the next step,” Gómez warned in statement. “First, anti-abortion extremists will throw providers in jail, then, anyone who gets an abortion or helps someone get an abortion. They won’t rest until people are facing the death penalty for miscarriages.”
Congressional Democrats from Texas are again calling for nationwide protections from Roe v. Wade to be codified into federal law via the Women’s Health Protection Act.
They are joined by 53 Democratic state parties that issued a joint statement on Tuesday. “Abortion bans are not favored by a majority of Americans, and they never will be,” they said. “They are, however, supported by an extremist group of right wing primary voters and donors — and that’s why the GOP continues to fight to restrict abortion access nationally and in our legislatures.”
Congressional Democrats have introduced the federal legislation to protect access to abortions since 2013, but September 2021 marked the first time the House passed the Women’s Health Protection Act.
(Rep. Henry Cuellar, who faces both a serious primary challenge and an FBI investigation, was the only House Democrat to vote against the bill).
In February 2022, the Women’s Health Protection Act received its first-ever Senate vote, but the legislation was blocked from advancing by Senate Republicans and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.
Senate Democrats are now calling for the filibuster to be scrapped and for the Women’s Health Protection to be finally passed by the Senate.
The push for the Women’s Health Protection Act earlier this year was spurred on by Senate Bill 8 in Texas, a law that restricts access to abortion after six weeks of pregancy and which is now only four months away from being in effect for one year.
Similar legislation has already been passed in Oklahoma and other states that are moving to restrict abortion access as the Supreme Court reviews Roe v. Wade.
Photo: Lorie Shaull / Wikimedia Commons
Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org