In an unprecedented breach, a full copy of a 98-page opinion draft written by Justice Samuel Alito announcing that the majority on the Supreme Court had voted to overrule both Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v Casey was leaked to Politico. Politico published the entire opinion today. In that opinion, Alito writes that Roe was “egregiously wrong from the start,” and that “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
The leaking and publishing of the opinion has caused an uproar on two issues: First, of course, is the concern among pro-abortion advocates that Roe and Casey being overturned would change the landscape of abortion in the country. Indeed, it would. While abortion will not become illegal if the SCOTUS rules to overturn Roe and Casey, it will give the states authority to limit abortion significantly. No state, I suspect, will outlaw abortion outright. There are several states with “trigger laws” in place that would limit abortion in those states should Roe and/or Casey be overturned.
The second issue is about the integrity of the Supreme Court. While the White House and Congress are practically sieves when it comes to leaking information, the Supreme Court has been relatively immune from such leaks. Justices need to know that they can deliberate on the important matters they consider without facing undue pressure from political parties, activists, or the general public. Indeed, it’s widely considered certain that the copy of Alito’s opinion was leaked by an activist with the intent of applying pressure on the Justices, perhaps hoping that that pressure would lead to one or more of them changing his or her mind. Speaking directly to that point, Chief Justice John Roberts issued a written statement in which he said, “To the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the Court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed. The work of the Court will not be affected in any way. This was a singular and egregious breach of that trust that is an affront to the Court and the community of public servants who work here.” Roberts has announced his intention to investigate the origins of the leak.
If you want to know Justice Alito’s arguments for overruling Roe and Casey, you can go to the Politico article. The article also includes a link to the entire opinion. For my part, there’s not much point in reading or speculating on Alito’s arguments at this time, since the opinion was written in February, is likely a draft, and the actual ruling of the Court won’t come out for another month or two.
Abortion is morally repugnant and cannot be justified. Abortion is the willful destruction of innocent human life, and there are no grounds on which the willful destruction of innocent human life can be justified. At the same time, those who oppose abortion have committed themselves to creating alternatives for women who face crisis pregnancies. There is help out there, so that no woman need choose abortion. Those who insist that overturning Roe and Casey will lead to back-alley abortions are ludicrous. First of all, there will, unfortunately, be plenty of states that allow abortion, even up to just prior to the moment of birth (perhaps some even after birth, in what has grossly been called “fourth-term abortions.” Second, as above, there is assistance available to women who desire alternatives to abortion, including keeping her child or offering her child for adoption. Those who argue that restricting abortion will especially hurt minority women are engaging in a game of deplorable cynicism, since the abortion industry targets minority women and their children and minority children are more likely to be aborted.
This is not the day to celebrate the overturning of Roe and Casey. We don’t know yet what the Justices will finally decide, leaked draft or no leaked draft. We do know that Roe and Casey were founded on a twisting of the Constitution beyond belief, and that both cases ought to be overturned. Should that be the case, it will be for pro-lifers to be prepared to reach out to women and their children to create even more options and alternatives. No woman need choose abortion. But not all women know that yet. It is imperative that we make sure they do.
HOPE Resource Center, 2700 Painter Ave, Knoxville, TN 37919, 865-525-4673
Catholic Charities of East Tennessee, The Regas Building, 318 Gay Street, Suite 100, Knoxville, TN 37917, 865-524-9896. 24-hour hotline: 1-877-990-4673. Catholic Charities’ Pregnancy Help Center has six locations in East Tennessee.
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