In what would amount to an unprecedented leak in modern times, Politico on Monday night published what it said was a draft opinion indicating the abortion rights enshrined in Roe v. Wade would be overturned by the Supreme Court in a pending case later this year.
The document, reportedly authored by Justice Samuel Alito and circulated in February, suggests at least five justices side with Mississippi in its case before the court challenging the landmark 1973 abortion ruling.
NBC News has not been able to independently verify the authenticity of the document, and the Supreme Court declined to comment.
“The Court has no comment,” Supreme Court spokeswoman Patricia McCabe said in a statement.
During oral arguments in December, the court’s 6-3 conservative majority appeared poised to uphold Mississippi’s law banning nearly all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The court’s three liberal justices warned at the time that revoking abortion rights nationwide would paint the high court as a political body.
Advocacy groups on both sides of the abortion rights debate reacted Monday night to news of the draft opinion.
“This leaked opinion is horrifying and unprecedented, and it confirms our worst fears: that the Supreme Court is prepared to end the constitutional right to abortion by overturning Roe v. Wade,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, the president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Planned Parenthood health centers remain open, abortion is currently still legal, and we will continue to fight like hell to protect the right to access safe, legal abortion.”
Mallory Carroll, a spokesperson for the Susan B. Anthony List, which supports ending abortion, said the organization would not comment “until the official decision is made.”
The final opinion is expected in late June or early July, meaning it is possible the justices’ final votes and the decision may change.
Overturning Roe v. Wade has been the primary goal of anti-abortion rights groups for decades, and the leaked opinion is expected to put immense pressure on congressional Democrats to take some kind of action to protect abortion rights as a growing number of states enact laws curtailing abortion access.
However, Senate rules requiring 60 votes for most legislation to advance in the evenly split chamber have prevented Democrats from getting a bill to President Joe Biden’s desk that would codify Roe v. Wade.