BOSTON – Politicians and women’s advocacy groups are reacting to the unprecedented leak of a draft US Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark law protecting abortion rights.
The draft opinion, written by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., was obtained by Politico on Monday night, and revealed that the high court’s conservative majority is siding with Mississippi in a case challenging the 1973 abortion rights law.
In deep-blue Massachusetts, where access to abortion is protected under a 2020 state law, the possibility that the landmark ruling could be overturned after nearly half a century drew swift condemnation from political leaders.
Gov. Charlie Baker, a pro-choice Republican, said overturning Roe V. Wade would be a “massive setback” for women living in states that restrict the procedure.
Members of the state’s all-Democratic congressional delegation also ripped the court’s draft decision and pledged to work to codify abortion rights nationwide.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Cambridge, accused the court’s conservative majority of imposing “far-right, unpopular views on the entire country.”
“It’s time for the millions who support the Constitution and abortion rights to stand up and make their voices heard,” she said. “We’re not going back – not ever.”
Sen. Ed Markey, D-Malden, also criticized the opinion and renewed his call to abolish the filibuster and expand the size of the Supreme Court “to reclaim the stolen seats, and restore the balance and faith of the American people.”
“There is no other recourse,” Markey said in a statement. “This egregious and overtly political act by these justices cannot go unanswered.”
Tail. Seth Moulton, D-Salem, said the decision would “take women’s rights back 50 years and put millions in danger by bringing back unsafe back-alley abortions.”
“Decisions like this are the result of a politicized Supreme Court that puts ideology ahead of our constitutional rights,” Moulton said. “Rest assured, we will work to correct this injustice if it is carried out.”
New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, said the high court’s ruling would have “catastrophic consequences for millions of Americans.”
“We won’t be pulled backward – we must codify Roe now,” Hassan posted on social media.
New Hampshire’s Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, who last year signed a 24-week ban on abortions, vowed to protect access to the procedure in the state.
“As a pro-choice governor, I am committed to upholding Roe v. Wade,” he said in a statement. “So long as I am governor, these health care services for women will remain safe and legal.”
At least 13 states have so-called “trigger laws” that would automatically ban abortions in the event of a ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a group that advocates for abortion protections. Other states are likely to pass restrictive laws on abortion access, the group says.
Meanwhile, another 15 states, including Massachusetts, have laws protecting abortion rights, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
To be sure, even if Roe V. Wade is overturned, the right to an abortion would still be protected in the Bay State under a law that went into effect more than a year ago.
In 2020, Democrats who control the state Legislature overrode a veto by Baker to approve a law that codified a woman’s right to get an abortion. The move was in response to changes in the makeup of the Supreme Court that gave it a conservative majority.
The so-called ROE Act prohibits the state from interfering with a “person’s personal decision” to get an abortion, allows the procedure after 24 weeks when deemed necessary by a doctor, and lowers the age of consent from a parent or judge from 18 to 16.
Prior to the passage of the ROE Act, abortion in Massachusetts was protected by the Roe v. Wade ruling, as well as a decision by the State Supreme Judicial Court.
Advocates say the state’s protections will make it a “sanctuary” for women from other states if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
“There is power in state and local leadership to protect our fundamental right to abortion and expand access to abortion care,” said Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak, CEO of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. “We’ve proven that in Massachusetts and will continue to lead – in our clinics providing care to all who want it and by legislating reproductive health equity in every corner of the Commonwealth.”
Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for North of Boston Media Group’s newspapers and websites. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.