A Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade was made public on Monday. The opinion, which shows that the Court voted to strike down the 1973 landmark case which guaranteed federal protection for abortion rights, was written by Justice Samuel Alito, and has already created an uproar following its release.
Chief Justice John Roberts said in a statement on Tuesday that the Supreme Court is launching an investigation of the leak.
The controversy is close to home for Northern Virginians. POLITICO, which broke the news, is housed in Arlington. Following the news and subsequent vitriol about the publication’s source, POLITICO has upped security and restricted office access and internal memos have advised staff to be cautious.
Currently, Virginia law allows for abortion in the pregnancy’s first trimester, and certain standards have to be met when performing an abortion in the second trimester. If Roe is officially overturned, these laws will still remain the same.
“States are the battleground for reproductive rights. I passed Virginia’s Reproductive Health Protection Act removing medically unnecessary barriers to abortion, making Virginia the first southern state to expand access. I will fight to keep Virginia a safe haven for abortion,” Virginia Senator Jennifer McClellan said in a tweet.
There isn’t any legislative action pursuing the enactment of some sort of abortion ban following the leak (which is already happening in other states), but it is not out of the question.
The Washington Post reported that Gov. Glenn Youngkin says he cannot speculate on a particular legislative agenda regarding a 15- or 20-week abortion ban until a final decision on Roe is made, but that he believes the abortion laws should be up to the states.
“I believe that the state should be able to take on this responsibility. I do believe, just like in determining what our education budget should be, what our funding for law enforcement should be, how we handle our taxes at the state level — those are state decisions,” he says.
Though he distanced himself from the issue on the campaign trail, Youngkin’s own position on abortion is clear. He is pro-life and participated in an antiabortion march at the end of April.
While Youngkin and other Republican leaders in the state have backed a reversal of Roe (but a condemnation of the leak of the draft opinion), Virginia Democrats, like McClellan, have had the opposite reaction, with Del. Eileen Filler-Corn stressing the importance of a Democratic majority to keep abortion access in place in the Commonwealth.
In addition to politicians, the leaked draft opinion has fired up Virginia organizations, both pro-life and pro-choice. While organizations like The Family Foundation are awaiting a final Roe reversal, others are prepared to push for safe abortion access.
“We have been preparing for this, and we’re ready for this fight. Abortion is still legal and will remain legal in Virginia when this decision becomes final. We are prepared to continue to fight across the country—this will not stop us,” the Virginia Reproductive Equity Alliance said.
They continued, “It is essential that pregnant people have access to medically accurate information and compassionate health care throughout their pregnancy, without political interference. Full stop. Politicians and Supreme Court Justices are throwing up barriers to abortion access not because it is necessary, but because they want to control people’s bodies.”
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