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The U.S. Supreme Court appears ready to strike down Roe v. Wade

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

President Biden is urging elected officials at all levels of government to protect a woman's right to choose. The president issued that statement after the leak of a draft of a Supreme Court opinion that suggests the justices are poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the decision that legalizes abortion in the U.S. The president said, quote, "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." He also added "we do not know whether this draft is genuine or whether it reflects the final decision of the court." Outside of the Supreme Court last night, hundreds of people gathered in response to the news.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) Abortion is health care. Abortion is health care.

MARTINEZ: NPR's Sarah McCammon covers reproductive rights. She joined us to talk about it.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Well, I want to say, first of all, A, that NPR has not independently obtained this document, which is labeled as a first draft. But court watchers say it does appear genuine. Amy Howe is the co-founder of SCOTUSblog, which covers the Supreme Court. She says she sees no reason to doubt this document's authenticity. And she says this kind of leak is highly unusual.

AMY HOWE: I think the justices are going to regard this as an enormous breach. To have this kind of leak, not only of the results but the opinion itself, is extraordinary.

MCCAMMON: And that opinion itself, if the court ultimately issues something similar to this draft, would allow states to severely restrict abortion. It describes Roe v. Wade as, quote, "egregiously wrong from the start." And it says there is no constitutional right to an abortion.

MARTINEZ: So what's the reaction been so far?

MCCAMMON: Well, there's both a reaction to the leak and to the content itself. Now, because it's a leaked draft, groups on both sides are being a bit cautious about their reactions. But this news is certainly reverberating across the political spectrum, and it's very much in line with what a lot of groups on either side of this issue have expected. Steve Aden is with Americans United for Life, which has sought to ban abortion in state legislatures nationwide, and he likes what he's seeing so far.

STEVE ADEN: It means simply that state lawmakers have to get to work to enact strong state laws and a policy to protect life across the country.

MCCAMMON: And from abortion rights advocates, there is a lot of anger and sadness about what they fear will be the court's decision. This comes after months and years, really, of warning against exactly such a potential turn of events.

MARTINEZ: Are abortion rights groups at all hopeful that the Supreme Court's final opinion might be different?

MCCAMMON: I mean, they're stressing that this is a draft and it's a leak, but I'm not overall hearing that kind of optimism. Reproductive rights groups are reminding people that, at least for now, abortion is still legal across the U.S., even if very difficult to obtain in many places. And they're watching to see what the official opinion says. As we've said, this is in line with what a lot of people have predicted from this conservative court, you know, with three justices chosen by former President Trump. I talked to Michelle Colon with the reproductive rights group SHERo Mississippi. That's where this case before the Supreme Court originated. She says abortion is now seriously threatened.

MICHELLE COLON: It's the reality which we have been preparing for. We're not surprised. This will open up a floodgate to many, many of the other standing, you know, laws that have been argued and won at the Supreme Court in regards to freedoms for Americans.

MCCAMMON: And she says this will make abortion access particularly difficult for lower income people and other marginalized groups. But she says reproductive rights groups will try to help patients get abortions through travel or through abortion pills.

MARTINEZ: Now, assuming these reports are correct, what happens next?

MCCAMMON: According to some estimates, more than half of states are expected to ban most or all abortions. And this will become even more a political issue, an issue in the midterm elections, certainly.

MARTINEZ: NPR's Sarah McCammon, thanks a lot.

MCCAMMON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.