On Monday evening, a drafted document was leaked to Politico which appears to challenge abortion rights in America.

Published in full, the 98-page document is a direct challenge to Roe v Wade, legislated in 1973.

What is Roe v Wade?

Roe v Wade is the constitutional protection of abortion rights until around 24 weeks into pregnancy (or, when the baby can survive outside the womb). The legislation is ‘among the most controversial in American History’ and has been continuously challenged since 1973. However, this document wants to see these rights reversed.

What Does The Document Say?

Supposedly authored by Justice Samuel Alito, the document says that Roe v Wade was ‘egregiously wrong from the start‘, ‘the decision has had damaging consequences‘ and, most worryingly ‘[it] must be overruled‘.

Although only a draft, the document will have been authored after a vote on abortion rights in the Supreme Court. It’s still subject to edits and possible changes in votes from the Justices. However, there will be a final ruling on abortion rights in the next couple of months.

How Have People Reacted?

After the leak, President Biden took to Twitter to express his support for the Roe v Wade legislation. He told his 21.8 million followers ‘I believe a woman’s right to choose is fundamental’.

Since President Biden’s statement, the document has been officially authenticated.

Protesters, both pro-choice and pro-life, have taken to the streets to demonstrate their passionate responses to the leak, with supposedly a hundred people going straight to the Supreme Court building.

Thousands of others have taken to social media to protest and the topic has been consistently trending since Monday evening. Many have pointed out that overturning abortion rights does not mean stopping abortion, but stopping the safe access to abortion for all women.

What Happens Now?

The overturning of Roe v Wade would mean that individual American states can make their own decisions regarding abortion rights. This would mean women may have to travel thousands of miles and spend obscene amounts of money to access abortions safely. The Guardian reports that 26 states would quickly change their abortion laws to become more restrictive.

It’s a little uncertain what will happen now. A decision will be made over the next few months, and votes can change in either direction. What we do know is that, if America does overturn Roe v Wade, it will be only one of four countries to take away abortion rights in the last 30 years.