(WHTM) — On Monday night, there was a bombshell report that the United States Supreme Court could be poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide. Chief Justice John Roberts on Tuesday confirmed the authenticity of the leaked draft opinion that revealed the court’s possible decision.
The draft opinion, which was leaked to Politico, was dated February 10 and is written by Justice Samuel Alito. It was not meant to be released to the public and is not final.
Reacting to the released draft opinion and joining abc27’s James Crummel to talk more about it on Tuesday was Widener University law professor Michael Dimino, who says the immediate aftermath of Roe v. Wade being overturned would likely be far more political than legal.
Full interview with Michael Dimino:
“In Pennsylvania in particular, there would be extremely unlikely for any greater restrictions on abortion to be put into place given Governor Wolf’s support of abortion rights. It would, however, open up the possibility for a greater restrictions on abortion rights if there should be a pro-life governor and pro-life majorityist in the Pennsylvania House and Senate,” Dimino explained. “So the immediate impact is likely to be a ratcheting up of interest in the state legislative and gubernatorial races this November.”
Dimino says, for the other states that have already passed more restrictive laws, including Mississippi. The document leaked was labeled a “1st Draft” of the “Opinion of the Court” in a case challenging Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks, a case known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
“Some of these states have passed laws trying to anticipate that the cour might overrule Roe v. Wade and so those more restrictive laws are already in place as soon as the Supreme Court gives them the green light,” Dimino explained.
The restrictive laws in place in 13 states across the nation are considered “trigger laws,” which means that, if Roe v. Wade is overturned, the states could immediately ban all or most abortions. There are trigger laws in Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Kentucky, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, North and South Dakota, Texas and Missouri.
States that have a six-week ban currently enjoined by the courts include Ohio, Iowa, Georgia and South Carolina. Plus, there are six states with unenforced pre-Roe bans, which includes Michigan, Wisconsin, West Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, and Arizona.
When asked what would happen to a woman if they tried to get an abortion in one of the states with trigger laws or bans, Dimino said it is important to first recognize the kind of basic principle that this decision does not make abortion illegal anywhere, if it does become final along the lines that the draft opinions seems to suggest.
“Instead, it opens up the possibility. It says, ‘We the court are not going to stand in the way of restrictions on abortion.’ But the states would still have the option of putting in restrictions of abortion, or not,” Dimino said. “So what would happen, if we are talking about one of those states that does impose greater restrictions on abortion rights, and a woman attempted to get an abortion from a provider, likely the provider would refuse to provide it because it would be illegal to do so.”
Dimino further explained that the likely effect would be that you have women who would go to states with more liberal abortion laws.
To Dimino’s knowledge, a leak of a draft opinion like the one on Monday is extremely rare and has not happened before. The only one prior to this that he can remember was decades ago, when a clerk leaked information about a likely decision by the court that had financial implications.
“We would have expected, and there’s no reason to think anything’s different now, we still expect a final decision in this Dobbs case within the next two months.”
Dimino says the leak is a tremendous violation of the trust place in the employees and Supreme Court justices involved in the cases and opinion process. “This leak will almost certainly have tremendous damage to the court’s ability to conduct deliberations in future cases.”
Governor Tom Wolf said in a statement Tuesday that the decision “will not have an immediate impact on Pennsylvania or its current laws.”
“Should this opinion become final, abortion access in Pennsylvania will remain legal and safe as long as I am governor. I will continue to veto any legislation that threatens access to abortion and women’s health care.”