Washington, DC – Thousands of people have protested outside the US Supreme Court against a potential rollback of abortion rights in the United States, after a draft decision to overturn the nation’s landmark Roe v Wade ruling was leaked.
Politico magazine first reported Monday evening on the Supreme Court’s majority draft opinion to strike down the precedent-setting 1973 decision, which set out a woman’s right to an abortion in the country.
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Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed on Tuesday that the draft was “authentic”, but he stressed it was not final and ordered an investigation into what he said was an “egregious” leak.
While the abortion issue inflames strongly held beliefs in the US, a majority of Americans support Roe v Wade. According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted late last month, 54 percent of people think the Supreme Court should uphold the ruling, compared with 28 percent who said it should be overturned.
Outside the Supreme Court on Tuesday, the number of protesters condemning the draft ruling vastly outnumbered those in favour. Al Jazeera spoke to demonstrators about what the potential end of Roe v Wade means to them.
Emily Cramer, 32, professor at Howard University, mother of two
“I learned about this leaked decision and I am afraid and feeling morally dejected. And after the past five years, I’ve learned the only thing that makes me feel better is protesting.
“The outcome of this decision is the undoing of years and years of women’s rights. Women should be able to time their pregnancies in a way that benefits their lives and their health. I’m afraid of what this means for my children and millions of others in the future.”
Amy Marden, 37, lawyer from Wisconsin, currently living in Virginia
“A friend of mine sent me a news story – a Politico news story – last night and I called my mom and we cried. My mom was out here fighting for abortion rights in the ’70s.
“Honestly, if we don’t have precedent in our country, we don’t have rights. None of our rights are safe.”
Eesha Bhave (left), 27, from Wayne, New Jersey and Krithika Harish, 32, of Washington, DC
Harish: “I’m here because of the decision that was leaked last night. We are imminently about to lose the right to safe and legal abortions in this country. And I am angered, outraged and disappointed.
“It’s inconceivable to me that my future daughter might have less rights than 50 years ago.”
Bhave: “After [the] news was leaked, I thought about all the people who won’t have that choice – whether to have a child or not.
“It’s just shameful they are trying to take away [the] long-held right of women to be able to have control over their bodies.”
Hayden Laye, 16, from Walhalla, South Carolina
“We are out here celebrating what could be the end of Roe v Wade and what could be the end of the greatest human rights violation in human history.”
Steve Corson, 65, from Fredonia, Arizona
“I am pro-life all the way and I am just so happy the Supreme Court is finally going to get rid of Roe v Wade.
“I am pro-life from a Christian standpoint and a natural standpoint. None of the other creatures kill their babies in the womb. Human beings are the only ones who do that.”