WASHINGTON — Politicians across D.C., Maryland and Virginia have put out statements after a groundbreaking Politico report shared a draft decision suggesting the court could be poised to overturn Roe v. Wade in the coming months. The leaked draft, reported late Monday, represented an extremely rare breach of the court’s secretive deliberation process.
The 98-page document was labeled a “1st Draft” of the “Opinion of the Court” in the "Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization" case challenging Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks. It appears to be written by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr, appointed under George W. Bush. Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the authenticity of the leaked draft opinion Tuesday and promised an investigation.
“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 chief justice said. "I have directed the Marshal of the Court to launch an investigation into the source of the leak.”
The unprecedented leak sent shockwaves across the nation and galvanized activists on both sides of the aisle, with protesters chanting outside the nation's high court into the wee hours of the morning. Now, both sides are mobilizing to defend or defeat the decision that appears to have been made in the political arena. While Republicans seemed to take issue predominantly with the leak itself, and what that says about respect of the Court, Democrats decried the dismantling of Roe v. Wade for what it means for the future of women's rights.
"We cannot leave our children, our girls a less free society than the one we were born into," D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said. "What America will we leave our girls?"
Read reactions from local leaders across the DMV below.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R)
“I am in utter disbelief that the sacred confidentiality of the Supreme Court would be violated in this manner. Sadly, this leak was done in order to cause chaos and to put pressure on justices and elected officials. It’s premature to speculate on what the Supreme Court’s decision will be; however, we learned from listening to Virginians over the last year that we have much common ground on this issue. I am pro-life, and I have been very clear about that since the day I launched my campaign. While we wait for the final June decision, we will be focused on lowering taxes for Virginians, funding education and law enforcement because we need to get a budget passed."
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D)
“Last night, Americans were rocked by the news that this Supreme Court was prepared to overturn Roe v. Wade, which for decades has made access to abortion a constitutional right in America. Even for everyone who's been bracing for this decision since 2016, it was shocking and terrifying. And in D.C., we know that the stakes are even higher because even if the courts allow states to decide abortion policy, that won't apply here to the 700,000 people who call D.C. home. We have seen before what happens when Congress intervenes in our ability to provide health care. Hundreds of D.C. residents died because of Congress's ban on needle exchange programs in the district. We know this because when that ban was lifted, drug-related HIV cases plummeted by 99%. That tells us what we already know: the government shouldn't be in the business of blocking access to health care. And we know that overturning Roe v Wade, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, is just the beginning. We know that this decision will fall hardest on those with the fewest resources. We also know that even in states that ban abortions, they will still happen. They won't be safe. And the bottom line is this -- women in the United States of America, women everywhere, should have control over their own bodies. We know that a majority of Americans support a woman's right to choose, and a majority of Americans believe that women and girls should not be forced to carry a pregnancy. We also know that we cannot leave our children, our girls, a less free society than the one we were born into. For many of us, that's what this is exactly about; what America will we leave our girls? Congress must act now. It's time for action. It's time to codify the rights in Roe v. Wade into national law. It's time to stop letting senators hold our nation hostage. And it's time to make us the 51st state where our senators will be able to speak for us and protect women and girls in Washington, D.C. I also want to state this clearly, that Washington D.C. is a pro-choice city. Last night's news didn't change that. Women still have access to care in D.C. We are ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with the hundreds of millions of Americans who share this value and share it deeply and are willing to fight for it and willing to protect it.”
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh (D)
“The draft opinion of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade is a dangerous departure from 50 years of precedent. If adopted by a majority of the Court, the decision will undermine the rights of women to control their own bodies and their health care. It will subject survivors of abuse, rape and incest to additional trauma by preventing them from accessing abortions. And, as usual, a decision overturning Roe will have the most harmful and lasting impact on women of color and on poor women, many of whom already lack meaningful access to safe, affordable reproductive health care. A decision overturning Roe also has broader implications for our modern society, threatening the rights of all Americans to make private decisions about their lives without government interference and endangering the hard-fought rights of LGBTQ Americans. The Supreme Court is about to take a deep dive into politics, something it appropriately and historically avoids. As citizens, it is more important than ever that we demand better from those who hold power in our institutions and that we hold our elected officials accountable for their role in protecting our rights. Elected officials in Maryland have protected women’s rights for more than three decades, and I am proud to have been a part of those efforts both as a legislator and as the Attorney General. I am especially proud of having voted to codify Roe v. Wade in the House of Delegates in 1991 and for the work that our office has done to protect and expand access to reproductive health care services across Maryland. I am optimistic that our state will continue to be a champion for the rights of women to make their own health care decisions, and that it will continue to protect the rights to privacy for all Marylanders.”
Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares' spokesperson Victoria LaCivita
“This leak was an unprecedented breach of trust intended to undermine the Supreme Court. At this time, the draft opinion is just that - a draft. The Attorney General will respect whatever decision the Court makes.”
Ward 7 Councilmember Vincent C. Gray (D)
"The District of Columbia will preserve and protect the rights of women to make healthcare choices for themselves. Period. It is also time for Democrats to unite and end the filibuster in the U.S. Senate. Ending the filibuster is the only way to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, which will undo the damage done by overturning Roe v. Wade. Furthermore, Democrats must not look past the ongoing denial of civil rights and voting rights long-suffered by residents of the District of Columbia. With statehood, we will elect two Democratic Senators, therefore adding to the Democratic majority and better protecting the rights of all Americans."
Rep. Abigail Spamberger (D-VA 7th District)
“The United States of America should not be a country where women are dying from back-alley abortions. This is a profoundly personal issue with real consequences for the lives of American women. Green-lighting states to ban abortion in all cases — including rape or incest — would only endanger the lives of those grappling with the hardest decision of their lives. These harrowing decisions should remain between a woman, her family, and her doctor.
“This leaked draft Supreme Court opinion is poised to erase a woman’s right to privacy and reproductive healthcare that has been settled law for nearly a half century. The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to codify Roe v. Wade. The U.S. Senate needs to follow suit and pass this bill.”
Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD 5th District)
"If the Supreme Court’s Republican-appointed justices indeed strike down Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, it would be the most egregious assault on women’s rights and equality, women’s access to health care, and every American’s right to privacy in generations. I truly hope that the Court does not take the drastic and dangerous step outlined in the alleged draft decision leaked yesterday evening and return us to a reality where one’s means to travel across state lines will determine one’s freedom to seek reproductive health care. Already, Republican-led states have severely restricted women’s health care access and sought to criminalize the actions of women seeking care and those who provide that care. If it does take that step, however, House Democrats will do whatever we can, working closely with Senate Democrats and the Biden-Harris Administration, to affirm women’s right to access abortion care safely and legally in every corner of our country. Republican senators who voted to confirm these justices - on the promise that they would not overturn fifty years of precedent on this issue of privacy rights - must join Democrats in taking action to protect the right of every woman to make decisions about her reproductive health care. They will bear responsibility for any impact of such a ruling on the millions of women they represent. I urge the Senate to take urgently needed action to protect the rights of women, remove the filibuster, and codify Roe v. Wade into law as soon as possible.”
Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Steve Descano (D)
"I will never prosecute a woman for making her own healthcare decisions."
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Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD 3rd District)
"If the draft opinion striking down Roe v. Wade stands, it will put the health, wellbeing and constitutional rights of women across this nation in great jeopardy. Should the court continue on this path, people in more than half of the states would immediately lose access to safe, legal abortion. Low-income families and those without the means to leave their homes for care in states like Maryland will be the most burdened. No level of government, whether federal, state or local, nor Congress, the President, or the Supreme Court, should interfere in personal health decisions. Despite testifying before Congress under oath that Supreme Court precedents should stand, the recently appointed conservative members of the court arrived with an agenda to overturn Roe and now they are making that a reality. Senate Republicans bear responsibility for confirming justices far outside of the legal mainstream, as well as for changing the rules for considering vacancies after the death of Justice Scalia compared to the death of Justice Ginsburg. Congress and the Biden administration must take swift action to protect personal reproductive and health rights for Americans. From Maryland to Mississippi, Florida to Washington State, there should be a common standard for self-determination of health decisions for women and all individuals.”
Sen. Amanda Chase (R-VA 11th District)
"State legislatures whose representatives are elected by the people should be making these types of decisions, not unelected judges. As a pro-life state senator elected by the people of Chesterfield, Colonial Heights and Amelia, who sponsored the Pain Capable bill that recognizes babies unborn experience pain at 20 weeks, I will continue to sponsor and support legislation that is consistent with the Constitution that prohibits the deprivation of life without due process. I'd like to see some consistency in the laws we legislators pass here in the Commonwealth. Currently, beagles have more rights to humane treatment than the unborn. Criminals have more due process than the unborn. And those on death row are "kept comfortable" while those born alive are left on a cold hard table to die alone. If we're going to legislate equity and equality then legislate equity and equality for ALL."
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