In a momentous decision that will have far-reaching consequences, the US Supreme Court has aligned with quashing the historic Roe v. Wade judgment that had awarded women the right to abortion.
The leaked draft of the opinion of the justices showed that as many as five supported striking down the landmark verdict, while three were against it.
Final Decision in 2 Months
Politico, which reported the unprecedented leak, said the opinion is not final and that the court's position could change. The final decision could likely come in the next two months.
Justice Samuel Alito penned the draft while four more Republican-appointed justices -- Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney -- supported him. Three other justices, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, opposed the draft. It is not clear how Chief Justice John Roberts, who was also appointed by Republican President George W, Bush, would vote.
"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 draft reads.
Mississippi Abortion Case
The sensational leak comes at a time when legal circles are closely watching the outcome of the case relating to Mississippi's effort to ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The Mississippi decision had been overturned by the New Orleans 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. The court found that the Mississippi law ran counter to existing laws stemming from Roe Vs Wade. If Justice Alito's draft is adopted by the SCOTUS, the Court of Appeals decision will be overturned as well.
"Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division."
Justice Alito further wrote: "The inescapable conclusion is that a right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation's history and traditions."
The leaked report triggered sharp reaction from both the left and right wings. The pro-life right celebrated the draft while the leftists decried the move saying it's the end of the road for women.
The landmark Roe v. Wade judgment was made in 1973, establishing in the process the constitutional right to abortion before fetal viability. The verdict crated legal wrangles in its wake but it was upheld in a subsequent 1992 Supreme Court decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
If the Supreme Court sticks with the draft verdict, it will mark the end of the federal guarantee for the constitutional protection of abortion rights. The law in place for the last half century allowed the states to arrive at individual decisions when it comes to restricting or banning abortion.
The conservatives have been vocal about overturning the landmark Roe V, Wade judgment. President Donald Trump was instrumental in tilting the court's balance heavily to the right. he appointed as many as three conservative judges to the apex court.
Republican congressman Madison Cawthorn hailed the reports of the court's decision, saying, "Because of Donald J Trump, Roe v Wade will be overturned." However, protesters gathered near the Supreme Court building, voicing concern.