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Governors swiftly react to reports of leaked draft opinion of Roe v. Wade

Police move barricades in place as a crowd of people gather outside the Supreme Court, Monday night, May 2, 2022 in Washington.
Alex Brandon
Police move barricades in place as a crowd of people gather outside the Supreme Court, Monday night, May 2, 2022 in Washington.

Updated May 4, 2022 at 3:07 AM ET

A majority of the U.S. Supreme Court has voted to overturn the landmark 1973 ruling Roe v. Wade that established the right to abortion nearly 50 years ago, according to a leaked draft opinion published by Politico on Monday.

Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the authenticity of the document, but noted it doesn't represent the court's final position.

The draft was written by Justice Samuel Alito and circulated in February. Alito, Justice Clarence Thomas and all three of former President Donald Trump's nominees – Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — supported the law being reversed, according to Politico.

Justices Stephen Breyer, Elana Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor were working on dissents. It was unclear how Chief Justice John Roberts voted, Politico said.

If Roe is reversed, it would not federally outlaw abortion. However, it would shift the power to states to decide on the procedure's legality.

Twenty-one states are expected to immediately ban or limit access to abortions if Roe v. Wade is overturned, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group in favor of abortion rights.

Reactions to the report were swift, with several governors issuing statements following the news. Here's what they said:


"This unprecedented leak is concerning, outrageous and a blatant attempt to manipulate the sacred procedures of the U.S. Supreme Court. Those responsible should be held accountable. My prayer is that Roe v. Wade is overturned and that life prevails," said Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican.


"I have advocated for the reversal of Roe v. Wade all my political career. The leak from someone within the court is reprehensible and should lead to an investigation but I do hope the court returns authority to the states," said Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.


"Our daughters, sisters, mothers, and grandmothers will not be silenced. The world is about to hear their fury," said California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat. "California will not sit back. We are going to fight like hell.


"In light of the reported decision of the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, CO remains a state where freedom is respected and where any person has the ability to live, work, thrive, and raise a family on their own terms," said Democratic Colorado Gov. Jared Polis.

He added: "While states like Texas, Florida and Arizona are engaging in the unwelcome intrusion of government into deeply personal and religious decisions, Colorado remains a refuge where any person has the ability to live, work, thrive, and raise a family on their own terms."


"Our state continues to take the steps necessary to protect and expand reproductive rights," said Democratic Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont. "Tonight [Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz] and I say it louder and with more resolve than ever before, we will do everything in our power to defend abortion rights in Connecticut."


"Women's health care decisions are deeply personal and private," said Delaware Gov. John Carney, a Democrat. "They've been protected under Roe v. Wade for almost 50 years, and it ought to remain that way."

He added, "Here in Delaware, a woman's right to choose is protected under the law, as it should be. President Biden said he will attempt to codify protections under Roe at the federal level if this decision stands — that's the right thing to do."


"Under my leadership, Georgia will remain a state that values life at all stages, and as we anticipate the U.S. Supreme Court's decision, Georgians should rest assured that I will continue to fight for the strongest pro-life law in the country,"said Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.


"The landmark Roe v. Wade decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 was the right decision," said Hawaiian Gov. David Ige, a Democrat. "Any action to overturn the ruling is wrong. The State of Hawai'i and I, personally, support women's reproductive rights, and a woman's right to make her own healthcare decisions. No matter what the Supreme Court decides, I will fight to ensure a woman's tight to choose in the State of Hawai'i."


"Hell no! In Illinois, we trust women. We cannot let their most profound and personal rights be violated," said Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, a Democrat.


"As we await the Supreme Court's final ruling, our mission remains as clear as it has ever been," said Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican. "We are fighting to defend the most important freedom there is: the right to life."


"I want to be very clear: unlike an apparent majority of the Supreme Court, I do not consider the rights of women to be dispensable." said Maine Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat. "As long as I am Governor, I will fight with everything I have to protect reproductive rights and to preserve access to reproductive health care."


"If SCOTUS overturns Roe, it would be a massive setback for women in states without responsible laws protecting abortion access and reproductive health services," said Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican. "I am proud to support every woman's right to choose and I am proud that MA has and will always protect every woman's right to choose what is best for them."


"Our work is more important than ever. I'll fight like hell to protect abortion access in Michigan," said Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.


"Not on my watch," said Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat.


"For decades, America has been uniquely radical in the West. Our abortion laws look like China & N. Korea," said Republican Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves. "Please pray for wisdom & courage for SCOTUS. Countless lives can be saved!"


"While outraged by this extraordinary breach, I join millions of hopeful Americans that Roe v. Wade will be put into the vault of history and that the American people and their elected representatives will be empowered once again," said Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte, a Republican.


"This draft opinion is a promising sign that the gross wrong of Roe will be righted and abortion decisions will return to the states,"said Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican. "I'm praying for our Supreme Court Justices as we await their final decision."


"In Nevada, we're committed to protecting reproductive rights - I've signed legislation affirming this right and expanding access to healthcare," said Democratic Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak. "And as long as I'm Governor, I'll continue to do so."

New Jersey

"I want to assure every New Jerseyan that today's news about the Supreme Court does not change access to abortion in our state," said New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat."Access to reproductive health care remains available to anyone who needs it in New Jersey."

New Mexico

"The ramifications of this decision would be devastating for New Mexico women," said Democratic New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham."Today and every day, the action we've taken to protect and expand abortion rights in New Mexico is more important than ever. Access to abortion is access to health care – and that won't change here."

New York

"I refuse to let my new granddaughter have to fight for the rights that generations have fought for & won, rights that she should be guaranteed," said Democratic New York Gov. Kathy Hochul. "For anyone who needs access to care, our state will welcome you with open arms. Abortion will always be safe & accessible in New York."

North Carolina

"Now more than ever, governors and state legislatures must stand up for women's healthcare. We know the stakes and must stand firm to protect a woman's choice and access to medical care," said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat.

North Dakota

"While recognizing that the U.S. Supreme Court has yet to issue an official opinion, our administration has consistently supported pro-life legislation, and we welcome the prospect of this issue being returned to the states where it belongs,"said North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, a Republican.


"I am proud to sign SB 1503, the Oklahoma Heartbeat Act into law," said Republican Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt. "I want Oklahoma to be the most pro-life state in the country because I represent all four million Oklahomans who overwhelmingly want to protect the unborn."


"All Americans should have access to abortion –– full stop. Abortion is health care and protected by state law in Oregon. We will fight to keep it that way, no matter what this Supreme Court decides,"said Democratic Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.


"Abortion is and will remain legal in Pennsylvania," said Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf."3 things to keep in mind: 1) An official ruling has not yet been made. 2) Once #SCOTUS does rule, it's up to states to pass legislation to change abortion laws. 3) I'll veto any anti-choice legislation that lands on my desk."

Rhode Island

"Here in Rhode Island, we will always protect a woman's right to choose," said Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee, a Democrat. "We will NOT go backwards on reproductive rights."

South Dakota

"If this report is true and Roe v. Wade is overturned, I will immediately call for a special session to save lives and guarantee that every unborn child has a right to life in South Dakota,"said Republican South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.


"If the federal courts return full authority to the states, Tennessee's laws will automatically provide the maximum possible protection and offer a glimmer of redemption as America reconciles our troubled past," said Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican. "We are talking about families in crisis – not isolated clinical procedures – and our state will continue to provide protection, resources and care for both mother and child."


"Although no one can know for sure that this draft will be the final opinion, I want Vermonters to be assured that this state has prepared for this possibility," said Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican.

"Three years ago, we enacted a law that affirms the fundamental rights of all women and ensures reproductive health decisions remain between a woman and her healthcare provider — totally free from government interference. It is important for Vermonters to know this will remain true in Vermont regardless of what happens with the Supreme Court."


"NOT HERE, NOT IN OUR LIFETIME," said Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat. "Washington is and will remain pro-choice. And we will not slow down in the fight to ensure safe, affordable access to every person who needs it."


"Our work to defend access to reproductive healthcare has never been more important," said Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers."Before I became governor, I promised I'd fight to protect access to abortion and reproductive rights. I've kept that promise, and I will fight every day as long as I'm governor."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: May 4, 2022 at 12:00 AM EDT
An earlier version of this story mistakenly said Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is a Democrat. In fact, he is a Republican.
Ayana Archie
[Copyright 2024 NPR]