Protestors chant outside US Court after leak indicates court will overturn Roe ...
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A leaked court document suggests the US Supreme Court could overturn the legal right to abortion.

In a 98-page draft opinion, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the 1973 Roe v Wade decision to legalise abortion is "egregiously wrong." If the top US court strikes down the ruling, abortion could be illegal in 22 US states. A ruling isn't expected until late June or early July.

Here's how it could affect abortion rights in the US:


What was Roe v Wade?

A woman's right to have an abortion during the first trimester was nationally protected in a 1973 ruling. Jane Roe, later identified as Norma McCorvey, was an unmarried pregnant woman who could not terminate her pregnancy under Texas law. It was illegal to do so unless it was to save the mother's life.

Roe's lawyer said she could not travel out of the state to have the abortion because the law was too vague.

The Texas law violated women's privacy and was overly broad, the ruling said. They also decided it broke the due process clause in the 14th amendment.

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It read: “This right of privacy ... is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy. The detriment that the State would impose upon the pregnant woman by denying this choice altogether is apparent.

“Specific and direct harm medically diagnosable even in early pregnancy may be involved. Maternity, or additional offspring, may force upon the woman a distressful life and future. Psychological harm may be imminent. Mental and physical health may be taxed by child care. There is also the distress, for all concerned, associated with the unwanted child, and there is the problem of bringing a child into a family already unable, psychologically and otherwise, to care for it.

“In other cases, as in this one, the additional difficulties and continuing stigma of unwed motherhood may be involved. All these are factors the woman and her responsible physician necessarily will consider in consultation.”


What has the Supreme Court said now?

But the draft opinion from the court, published by Politico on Monday quotes Justice Alito saying: "Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences.

"And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division."


How have people reacted?

It has since sparked outrage from Democrats and protestors outside the Washington DC court.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer collectively said: "If the report is accurate, the Supreme Court is poised to inflict the greatest restriction of rights in the past fifty years - not just on women but on all Americans.

"The Republican-appointed Justices' reported votes to overturn Roe v Wade would go down as an abomination, one of the worst and most damaging decisions in modern history."

Neither the Supreme Court nor the White House has commented on the leak.

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