August 11, 2022

The move has been labelled “the greatest restriction of rights in the past 50 years”

A leaked document has suggested that the US Supreme Court is set to overturn the nationwide right to abortion.

The court has provisionally voted to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade ruling, according to the document published by Politico.

Neither the Supreme Court nor the White House has yet commented on the leak.

Roe v Wade was a case that ended up enshrining the constitutional right to abortion for women in the US, giving women the absolute right to an abortion in the first three months of pregnancy.

It was largely upheld in a later case in 1992, Planned Parenthood v Casey. On this occasion the Supreme Court ruled that states could not place an “undue burden” on women seeking abortions before a foetus could survive outside the womb, at about 24 weeks.

But the leaked document, written by Justice Samuel Alito, says that Roe v Wade was “egregiously wrong from the start,” that its reasoning was “exceptionally weak,” and that the decision has had “damaging consequences.”

Protestors gathered outside the Supreme Court following the leak of the document (Kevin Dietsch/Getty)

It adds: “Far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have inflamed debate and deepened division.”

“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.”

According to Politico, the document is marked as a first draft and was first circulated in February. The Supreme Court justices are set to issue their final ruling by early July.

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This is part of a case challenging Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks, Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organisation.

The Supreme Court is made up of nine justices, six of which were appointed by Republican presidents. Along with Justice Alito, four other Republican-appointed justices – Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett – voted in favour of the move.

Justices’ votes have been known to change during the drafting process.

The news of the leak prompted protests outside the Supreme Court, and has been condemned by Democrats.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer issued a joint statement following the news, which read: “If the report is accurate, the Supreme Court is poised to inflict the greatest restriction of rights in the past 50 years.”

They added that if the decision went through it would go down as an “abomination, one of the worst and most damaging decisions in modern history.”

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders said that Congress must immediately “pass legislation that codifies Roe v Wade as the law of the land.”

If the ruling were to go through, it would allow individual states to issue more restrictions on abortion and even ban the procedure altogether.

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Abortion is one of the most divisive political issues in America, and in recent months a number of states have tried to place more restrictions on the procedure.

Last year, Texas introduced a law that bans abortions after six weeks, except in the case of a medical emergency for the mother.

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