Summit County citizens react to leaked Roe v. Wade draft that reportedly overturns federal protections regarding access to abortion
Community members gathered in Frisco Historic Park on Tuesday to discuss their feelings around a leaked draft that alleges U.S. Supreme Court justices plan to overturn Roe v. Wade, the decades-old decision that guarantees access to abortion under federal law.
Evin Harris, who organized the gathering for Summit Together, said that though she feels lucky to live in Colorado — where there are no regulations on access to abortion — this decision will likely affect women who live in more conservative states that have made attempts to limit access in the past.
“It’s an attack on women and people who can get pregnant,” Harris said, adding that access to abortion “should be protected, and currently, it is with Roe v. Wade. If that is taken away, it’s going to be extra hard to access that care. … It just feels incredibly sad and disheartening.”
On Monday, Politico leaked a 98-page document alleged to be an initial draft opinion that was written in regards to the ongoing decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Clinic, a case in Mississippi that stems from the state’s attempt to ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The report outlines discussion about overturning Roe v. Wade and the subsequent Casey vs. Planned Parenthood decision.
The Roe v. Wade decision, which is almost 50 years old, is grounded in the right to privacy, but the leaked opinions show that the court is looking to overturn Roe’s logic and legal protections.
According to the leak, the five of the six Republican-appointed justices — Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Samuel Alito and Amy Coney Barrett — have voted to overturn the precedent. Three Democratic-appointed judges — Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — are reportedly working on one or more dissents. How Chief Justice John Roberts will vote — and whether he will join an already written opinion or draft his own — is unclear, according to Politico.
Because the leaked documents are drafts, the final decision could differ from the draft opinions, and one or more of the justices could change their minds before the opinion is released.
If the decision remains, this means that access to abortion will be decided by individual states, rather than at the federal level.
Monday night, Gov. Jared Polis released a statement regarding the leak, stating that it was “disappointing news” and represented a radical shift away from individual freedom.
“While states like Texas, Florida and Arizona are engaging in the unwelcome intrusion of government into deeply personal and religious decisions, Colorado remains a refuge where individual rights are respected and where any person has the ability to live, work, thrive and raise a family on their own terms,” Polis said in the statement.
Lisa Harper, who also attended Summit Together’s event on Tuesday, said that the decision is going to affect vulnerable populations the most, such as lower-income patients who don’t have the means to travel across several states to get an abortion.
“It does a huge disservice to that population. That’s who it’s hitting,” she said. “We’re lucky to be here in Colorado in this beautiful, healthy mountain town, but like for the rest of the U.S., like 90% of it, that’s huge. That’s who is really going to take the hit.”
In April, Colorado State Legislature passed the Reproductive Health Equity Act, which codified the right to an abortion into state law. Consistently over the past 15 years, Colorado voters have rejected ballot measures regarding abortions — five since 2008. Several states surrounding Colorado have laws that limit some access to abortions, and women’s health clinics have already seen upticks in out-of-state patients coming to Colorado to have abortions.
Across the country, demonstrations and marches popped up to protest the court’s decision. In Denver, over 1,000 people showed up to the capitol.
The Supreme Court heard final arguments on April 27, and justices will have sessions over the next two months to release rulings in its still-unresolved cases, which includes Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Clinic.
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