After Leaked Supreme Court Abortion Draft Opinion, Pro-Life Leaders Express Hope Yet React Cautiously

While many declined to comment on the reported leak, all of them condemned Roe.

Students from Liberty University pray in front of the U.S. Supreme Court during oral argument in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization abortion case on Dec. 1, 2021.
Students from Liberty University pray in front of the U.S. Supreme Court during oral argument in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization abortion case on Dec. 1, 2021. (photo: Katie Yoder/CNA / EWTN)

Pro-life leaders had mixed reactions Monday night to the news of a purported U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion signaling that justices will overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide. While many declined to comment on the reported leak, all of them condemned Roe.

Politico on Monday night published a purported 98-page draft majority opinion allegedly written by conservative Associate Justice Samuel Alito Jr. in the closely watched Mississippi abortion case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The document states, “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

Court experts reacting to the news emphasized that, if authentic, the draft may still be subject to changes before any final decision is announced.

The March for Life “will not be providing comment on an official decision of #scotus possible leak until a decision is officially announced,” Jeanne Mancini, the president of the March for Life, responded on Twitter after Politico published its exclusive report. 

“We also believe that given the leak the court should issue a ruling as soon as possible,” she added. “This leak was meant to corrupt the process. It is heartbreaking that some abortion advocates will stoop to any level to intimidate the court no matter what the consequences.”

Back in December, Supreme Court justices heard oral arguments in the Dobbs case, which centers on a 2018 Mississippi law restricting most abortions after 15 weeks and directly challenges Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which upheld Roe in 1992. 

“It is commonly known that Roe was erroneously decided,” Mancini said. “#SCOTUS needs to correct the wrong and give people the ability to decide abortion policy.”

Pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List similarly declined initially to comment on the alleged leak, tweeting, “Regarding the SCOTUS leak on Dobbs, SBA List will not be commenting until an official decision is announced by the Court.”

Later, however, SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser issued a fuller statement. “If the draft opinion made public tonight is the final opinion of the court, we wholeheartedly applaud the decision. The American people have the right to act through their elected officials to debate and enact laws that protect unborn children and honor women. If Roe is indeed overturned, our job will be to build consensus for the strongest protections possible for unborn children and women in every legislature," Dannenfelser said.

“We also recognize the need for the pro-life movement to continue its existing work to support pregnant women and children in need. There are thousands of pro-life pregnancy centers and maternity homes nationwide and an ever-growing pro-life safety net,“ the statement continued. ”The pro-life movement will continue to grow to meet the needs of these women and their families, walking and planning with them to love and serve both mother and child.”

In response to the Politico report, Lila Rose, the president and founder of Live Action, responded with a slew of tweets, beginning with, “Roe Must Go! The right to kill a child doesn’t exist. But the right to life is a basic human right.” 

She commented on the “Unprecedented leak of a draft SCOTUS decision.”

Roe has been wrongly decided since the day it was issued. It’s illogical and gravely unjust. Overruling Roe would be an important step in the right direction of protecting our fundamental right to life. But if this decision is issued, true justice has not yet been achieved,” she stressed in a Twitter thread. 

“It’s not enough to send abortion back to the states,” she said, indicating what would happen if Roe is overturned. “Democracies shouldn’t have the ability to vote on if a genocide can be committed against an entire group of people. Human rights are not decided by majority vote. They are inalienable.”

“Pray for the Justices tonight and every night until the decision comes out,” she concluded. “I fear there will be unprecedented threats against them.”

As President and CEO of Americans United for Life Catherine Glenn Foster responded, “We stand alongside all Americans who have waited so hopefully and for so long for the Supreme Court to reverse Roe, to set American on the path to abortion abolition, and to restore justice to our nation. Today is a day for courage and hope.”

In the same statement, Steven Aden, chief legal officer and general counsel at AUL, condemned the leak. 

“The Supreme Court wishes to return the issue of abortion to the American people, and for that reason this draft opinion language is to be applauded,” he said. “It is outrageous that this draft language was leaked, presumably by pro-abortion staffers within the Court. It is a cynical and naked attempt to pressure justices to alter course in Dobbs and to perpetuate abortion violence. The Court should maintain the moral high ground, stick to the clear and courageous language of this draft opinion, and not allow itself to be ruled by the expectations of pro-abortion activists or proxy media allies.”

AUL took the position that the "implicit intent of this leak is to pressure and manipulate members of the Court to alter their votes or otherwise water down the language of the final opinion — if the Court is truly the nonpolitical body that Chief Justice John Roberts has said that it is, the Court cannot now bow to partisan pressure to change course for the sake of an illusory detente.”

Another pro-life leader, Kristan Hawkins, the president of Students for Life of America, said, “We don’t know whether rumors of the end of Roe are accurate yet, but we know that ending Roe is the right decision, returning the issue to ‘we the people’ from a few judges with an agenda.”

“You won’t find ‘abortion’ written in invisible ink in the Constitution undiscovered until 7 men saw it in 1973,” she added, referring to the Roe decision. “Ending preborn human life is and has always been a judicial error. The court cannot allow the bullying tactics of the left combined with the threat of chaos caused by an unprecedented leak to change the right course — the end of Roe.”

A group of the Little Sisters of the Poor stands in front of the Supreme Court Building in Washington, DC, March 23, 2016.

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