EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Local leaders and groups are weighing in after a draft of a Supreme Court opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked and published Monday by Politico.
The 1973 decision legalized abortion nationwide.
Below is a timeline of how it all emerged, along with new reaction from both sides of the debate:
8 p.m. Tuesday
Hundreds of Rhode Islanders gathered outside the State House Tuesday night in support of reproductive rights, and to condemn the Supreme Court’s draft decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
7 p.m. Tuesday
12 News reached out to all the candidates seeking to fill Congressman Jim Langevin’s seat in Rhode Island’s 2nd District to find out where they stand on the issue.
5:45 p.m. Tuesday
Rhode Island Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate Nellie Gorbea issued a statement regarding the Supreme Court’s possible decision to strike down Roe v. Wade.
“Access to abortion is a fundamental right. I’m proud that here in Rhode Island we’ve worked together to protect that right. Make no mistake: abortion is on the ballot this election. I am the only candidate in this field who has worked my entire life and career to stand up against Republican attacks, fighting for the rights and freedoms of people and their families,” Gorbea said. “As governor, I will do everything in my power to ensure that Rhode Islanders will continue to have access to safe and legal abortions.”
Gorbea also plans to attend The Womxn Project’s rally outside the Rhode Island State House Tuesday night where she “will discuss the critical need to elect pro-choice candidates up and down the ballot.”
4:30 p.m. Tuesday
Gov. Dan McKee announced he has joined a coalition of 17 governors in calling for the U.S. Congress to take immediate action to protect reproductive rights and access to abortion.
The coalition sent a letter to congressional leaders calling for Congress to quickly pass legislation to codify the rights and protections prescribed in Roe v. Wade.
“I trust women to make their own health care decisions in consultation with their health care provider,” McKee said. “Here in Rhode Island, we stand firmly in defense of a woman’s right to choose. We are grateful to have Roe v. Wade codified in state law, but Congress must take action on the federal level to protect the rights of all Americans to access reproductive health care.”
Two state lawmakers also renewed their push to ensure that abortion procedures are covered for all Rhode Islanders.
3:15 p.m. Tuesday
State Rep. Anastasia Williams released a statement saying she’s grateful that even if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, women in Rhode Island will still have those rights and protections under a state law she sponsored.
“In 2019, opponents told us that this law was unnecessary, and today, I am thankful that the General Assembly was not persuaded by this empty argument and ensured that every Rhode Island woman will retain their reproductive freedom and rights into the future. We saw the possibility of this day and decision coming and we worked diligently to guarantee, maintain and protect women’s right to choose the best reproductive health decision for themselves and their families. My heart goes out to the women and families across the country who will feel and suffer from this horrendous attack on personal freedom and to Rhode Island women, I say rest assured that regardless of the Supreme Court’s ultimate decision, your privacy and rights to make your own reproductive health decisions with your families and doctors will remain firmly enshrined in state law.”
2:45 p.m. Tuesday
U.S. Sen Jack Reed releases a statement in response to the SCOTUS draft opinion:
“It is clear the Republican Court has the votes to fully overturn Roe v. Wade. Such a ruling would be a radical, short-sighted, partisan move from a partisan court. Like the majority of Rhode Islanders, I support a woman’s right to make her own private reproductive choices. There will be floor votes in response, but the simple fact is the only votes that matter on this issue will be cast by the American people in November.”
12:30 p.m. Tuesday
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren took to the steps of the Supreme Court to speak her mind about the issue. She also sent out a couple tweets:
“I am angry because an extremist Supreme Court thinks they can impose their extremist views on all of the women of this country and they are wrong. I have seen the world where abortion is illegal. We’re not going back—not now, not ever.”
“If an extremist Supreme Court overturns Roe, wealthy women will still get safe abortions — by traveling to another state or country. But women of color, those with lower-incomes, and victims of abuse will suffer the most. Congress must eliminate the filibuster and protect Roe.”
11:30 a.m. Tuesday
Chief Justice Roberts confirms the authenticity of the ruling obtained by Politico and is now asing for an investigation: “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.”
11 a.m. Tuesday
Bishop Thomas Tobin had no comment on the matter and issued this statement:
“I will have no comments on the Supreme Court and the pending abortion legislation until a decision of the Court on this matter is final. In the meantime, I urge everyone to reflect upon this very important issue, that involves one of our core beliefs in the dignity of human life, with humility, peace, and prayer.”
10 a.m. Tuesday
President Joe Biden said a women’s right to choose is “fundamental” in a statement:
“We do not know whether this draft is genuine, or whether it reflects the final decision of the Court.
“With that critical caveat, I want to be clear on three points about the cases before the Supreme Court.
“First, my administration argued strongly before the Court in defense of Roe v. Wade. We said that Roe is based on “a long line of precedent recognizing ‘the Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty’… against government interference with intensely personal decisions.” I believe that a woman’s right to choose is fundamental, Roe has been the law of the land for almost fifty years, and basic fairness and the stability of our law demand that it not be overturned.
“Second, shortly after the enactment of Texas law SB 8 and other laws restricting women’s reproductive rights, I directed my Gender Policy Council and White House Counsel’s Office to prepare options for an Administration response to the continued attack on abortion and reproductive rights, under a variety of possible outcomes in the cases pending before the Supreme Court. We will be ready when any ruling is issued.
“Third, if the Court does overturn Roe, it will fall on our nation’s elected officials at all levels of government to protect a woman’s right to choose. And it will fall on voters to elect pro-choice officials this November. At the federal level, we will need more pro-choice Senators and a pro-choice majority in the House to adopt legislation that codifies Roe, which I will work to pass and sign into law.”
9:45 a.m. Tuesday
Rhode Island Right to Life Committee posted reaction to Facebook:
“As has been widely reported since last night, Politico has published what they claim to be a “1st Draft” of the Supreme Court majority opinion in the Dobbs v Jackson abortion case, allegedly authored by Justice Samuel Alito and circulated amongst the nine members of the court on February 10, 2022.
“According to the purported draft majority opinion, the court intends to overturn the 1973 Roe v Wade decision, which struck down all then-existing state prohibitions against abortion. Together with its companion Doe v Bolton decision, Roe v Wade effectively legalized abortion-on-demand through all nine months of pregnancy for virtually any reason whatsoever, and severely restricted the ability of states to regulate or impose limits on what has become a billion-dollar abortion industry.
“While many observers have believed, since oral arguments last December, that Roe v Wade will be overturned or seriously curtailed, we have no way of knowing the veracity of the alleged draft. Moreover, members of the court can change their position right up until the ruling is issued. The alleged leak may indeed be an unscrupulous attempt to influence the final decision by exposing members of the court to threat and intimidation.
“With this in mind, I will repeat my plea over the past few months to join me in praying for the members of the court, for our country, and for the protection of human life:
“Grant, we pray O Lord, wisdom to the members of our Supreme Court as they deliberate over the Dobbs v Jackson case. Grant them courage to overturn the scourge of court-imposed legal abortion in America. Protect these nine men and women, and our entire nation, from all harm, so that justice for preborn babies might finally be restored in our states and healing may begin in our land. Amen.
“Finally, please resist the temptation to get caught up in the hyperbolic bloviating of political and media personalities, many of whom are pushing an agenda. Rather, now is an opportune time for everyone in the pro-life movement to double down in prayer, in fasting, and in giving witness to the goodness and truth and beauty of LIFE by continuing to serve mothers and families in need.”
9:15 a.m. Tuesday
Rhode Island Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos’ statement:
“Women have a fundamental right to health care.
“I was angry and saddened to wake up this morning and read reports that the Supreme Court has drafted an opinion that will overturn Roe v. Wade. The Court’s draft opinion will rule that women are second class citizens. As a mother, I will not stand for that. I always have and always will be a staunch, unapologetic defender of a woman’s right to access reproductive health care.
“Two things are crystal clear this morning: First, elections matter. And second, Rhode Island must continue to protect women’s access to health care because we cannot count on a partisan Congress to do that for us.”
9:15 a.m. Tuesday
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker tweeted his opposition to the Supreme Court’s draft opinion:
“If SCOTUS overturns Roe, it would be a massive setback for women in states without responsible laws protecting abortion access and reproductive health services. I am proud to support every woman’s right to choose and I am proud that MA has and will always protect every woman’s right to choose what is best for them.”
8:30 a.m. Tuesday
Candidate for mayor of Providence, Brett Smiley, issued the following note:
“Last night it was reported that the Supreme Court has drafted an opinion to overturn Roe v Wade. While I am upset and angry, it can only pale in comparison to what women and those who rely on reproductive services around the country must be feeling. As a gay man, I have long held that we have an unbreakable bond with the reproductive justice movement and those fighting for the right to make decisions about their own body–without the intrusion of the government. I can’t help but wonder what else this right wing court will do next to our core freedoms and rights.
“Looking back on my public service, there was no more significant moment than watching my boss, Governor Gina Raimondo, codify Roe into state law. I was proud to have worked closely on that bill and proud to have served on the Planned Parenthood board for many years. In the months ahead, we all need to support Democrats at the local, state and federal levels and call on Congress to codify Roe into federal law.
“But today, I would ask you to consider supporting Planned Parenthood (ppsne.org) or any other organization during work to ensure that every American has access to safe, affordable and accessible reproductive health care in these scary days ahead.”
7:45 a.m. Tuesday
Mayoral candidate for Providence Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune’s statement:
“The United States has reached a moment that many of us, including myself, have feared since 2016: the likely overturning of Roe v. Wade, the dismissal of decades upon decades of judicial precedent and restraint, and the fulfillment of the threat to people’s ability to access reproductive healthcare everywhere.
“Activists have been standing up to right-wing extremists for years, issuing warning after warning that enough was not being done to protect the rights of all birthing people.
“Enough is enough. We need leaders at every single level of government who have a record of fighting on behalf of reproductive freedom, not just paying lip service now that the decision is looming. It has never been more important for leaders to reflect the people that they serve.
“The challenges we face as a City, State, and Nation will only be solved by leading first with our shared experiences.
“The overturning of Roe v. Wade will be a catastrophic error in the history of the Supreme Court. This decision will put families and birthing people at risk, and it will almost certainly lay the predicate for right-wing extremists to restrict the rights of our LGBT+ neighbors, the rights of people to access contraception, and more.
“The reality is that today is a dark day. We will only see brighter days by coming together to fight for what is right and what we believe in.”
7:30 a.m. Tuesday
R.I. Democratic Women’s Caucus statement:
“The draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization disclosed in the May 2, 2022 Politico report is an unconscionable attack on individual liberty and portends a dangerous future where no human right is safe from right-wing activist judges.
“Make no mistake: this decision will not end abortions in the United States, just as Roe v. Wade in 1973 did not mark the beginning of abortions in the United States. The effect of this decision is simply to prevent low-income and minority women access to reproductive health care.
“The Women’s Caucus is proud to have been part of the coalition that successfully lobbied for passage of the Reproductive Privacy Act. But the fight for abortion rights for all did not end there.
“As part of the Campaign for Equal Abortion Coverage, the Women’s Caucus supports the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act (EACA) in 2022. The EACA will ensure that abortions are covered in the state Medicaid program and associated plans as well as in the health plan used by state employees. The current ban on abortion coverage in these health plans reinforces racial and health inequality – just as the anticipated holding in Dobbs does.
“We call on the General Assembly to pass the EACA immediately.
“In four months, Rhode Islanders will cast ballots in pivotal state and federal elections. This news is a stark reminder of the importance for the Women’s Caucus to remain steadfast in our mission to support Democrats who identify as and with women and support bodily autonomy and equality for all.”
7 a.m. Tuesday
Rep. Jake Auchincloss issues a statement on Twitter:
“Reproductive health care is a human right. Congress must protect abortion access, because regardless of the final ruling, we know that SCOTUS can’t be relied upon to uphold Roe.”
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse put out a statement saying:
“If the majority Republican justices stay the course, this decision will go down as one of the most supremely political acts in Supreme Court history. Roe v. Wade has stood firm in the law for decades, guaranteeing women the freedom to decide if and when to have a child – one of the most profoundly personal and life-altering decisions a person can make.
“This decision would wipe that well-established precedent away, to give right-wing ideologues a political victory. The right-wing goal has been to control the Court, to achieve policy gains against the will of the American public, and this decision is exactly the kind of deliverable they had in mind when they packed the Court with Federalist-Society-chosen justices.
“I hope the Republican justices seriously reconsider a decision to upend nearly 50 years of precedent and harm millions. It would be a blow from which the Court may not recover, and which would fall squarely on women of this country.”
11:15 p.m. Monday
Sen. Ed Markey released the following statement:
“Tonight, the American people got a sneak preview of what a stolen, illegitimate, and far-right Supreme Court majority appears poised to do: destroy the right to abortion. This decision would undermine the health, safety, and freedom of millions of Americans, and it will be made at the hands of justices who Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and Senate Republicans foisted on the bench into stolen seats.
“Conservatives on the court swore to respect the doctrine of stare decisis, a promise they now appear to be violating. This egregious and overtly political act by these justices cannot go unanswered.
“There is no other recourse. We must abolish the filibuster in order to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, and we must expand the Supreme Court in order to reclaim the stolen seats, and restore balance and the faith of the American people. Tonight, I ask my colleagues in the Senate what other judicial outrage must we endure from the illegitimate majority on the Court before we act.”
11 p.m. Monday
The Womxn Project (TWP) said they are going to be holding a rally Tuesday at 8 p.m. outside the R.I. State House to demand the passage of the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act.
TWP says while abortion is still legal in the country, they are also gathering “in solidarity for what is happening across this country regarding people’s safety and dignity being removed with potential of Roe being overturned.”
10:30 p.m. Monday
Outgoing Rep. Jim Langevin, who was elected as a pro-life Democrat, changed his stance on abortion last year when he voted in favor of the Women’s Health Protection Act. He described the draft decision as “the most severe rollback of women’s rights in this country’s history.”
10 p.m. Monday
Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee tweets his reaction:
“Here in Rhode Island, we will always protect a woman’s right to choose. We will NOT go backwards on reproductive rights.”
9:30 p.m. Monday
Even if Roe v. Wade is formally overturned, both Rhode Island and Massachusetts have codified abortion rights into state law. The decisions were made in anticipation of such a ruling from the Supreme Court.
Congressman David Cicilline echoed that sentiment, stating that while abortion rights “are under attack,” it is still constitutionally protected:
“Abortion rights are under attack but abortion is still constitutionally protected. To preserve this right, the Senate needs to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act NOW. Abortion is healthcare and every woman has the right to make healthcare decisions for herself.”
9:15 p.m. Monday
Planned Parenthood posted on Twitter:
“Let’s be clear: This is a draft opinion. It’s outrageous, it’s unprecedented, but it is not final. While abortion is still legal, tonight’s report makes clear that our deepest fears are coming true. We have reached a crisis moment for abortion access. We don’t have a moment to spare — we must act now.”
8:30 p.m. Monday
The U.S. Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, which has guaranteed women the constitutional right to an abortion since 1973, according to a draft opinion obtained by Politico.
The draft decision, according to Politico’s report, was circulated by Justice Samuel Alito inside the court Monday.
The initial draft majority opinion also makes mention of overruling the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision, which largely maintained a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.
The Supreme Court has yet to officially issue a ruling on the matter, which was brought before them in a case challenging Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks.