Abortion rights advocates protest at Georgia Capitol after leak of Roe opinion draft
ATLANTA - Emotions were running high after a report Monday evening shared a leaked majority draft opinion from the Supreme Court appearing to overturn the 1973 decision on Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that legalized abortion nationwide.
Chief Justice John Roberts on Tuesday confirmed the authenticity of the draft opinion, which was part of the decision on a case in which Mississippi argued the court should overturn Roe v. Wade.
In Atlanta, protesters angry about the possibility the nation’s highest court could overturn the decision bubbled out into the streets of Downtown Atlanta. Many said they are fearful for what could come from the decision.
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Sasha Stray, who was marching with the group Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights spoke with FOX 5’s Alex Whittler. She expressed that those of child-bearing age in Georgia should have safe and legal access to abortion.
Stray wore a green neck bandana around her neck and encourage others to wear green in support of abortion rights.
Some in attendance feared the overturning of Roe v. Wade would lead to other restrictions on women’s rights and reproductive rights including birth control and could lead to forced motherhood.
"My sign says you can only ban safe abortions… And it doesn't help that we don't have great sex education in the country…no universal health care. There’s a lot of like factors that make banning abortions regardless, bad, but it makes it even worse when they’re trying to do this, and we don’t have any other resources," said Diamond, one of the protesters on Tuesday.
Victoria Curry, who is a nurse, said she joined the protest because she is worried the decision could negatively impact people experiencing ectopic pregnancies, where an embryo starts to grow where it shouldn't. She said it puts the woman in extreme danger and is potentially life-threatening.
"The way you treat it is with a drug called methotrexate, which is also known as the abortion pill," Curry said. "Those bills proposed that drugs like methotrexate be illegal. So, that would prevent women from getting treatment for an ectopic pregnancy."
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Many questioned not only the court’s thinking on the draft opinion, but also how it got out.
"I don't know how it came from or how it got out there. I’m sure whoever put it out there had a political motive. Which is not for me to judge why they are doing it, but with that information, I think it is a scary thing," said Nicholas Ward.
The draft is signed by Justice Samuel Alito, a member of the court's 6-3 conservative majority, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush.
"We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled," it adds, referencing the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey that affirmed Roe's finding of a Constitutional right to abortion services but allowed states to place some constraints on the practice. "It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people's elected representatives."
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Georgia would likely be among 26 states to outright ban abortion if the court left the decision up to state lawmakers.
In Georgia, abortion remains available up to 20 weeks into pregnancy, but the state has moved to restrict abortion.
In September 2021, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling stayed the appeal of Georgia's so-called "Heartbeat Bill", blocking the law. The appeals court ruling was waiting for the Supreme Court's decision on the Mississippi law, which bans abortion after 15 weeks. Georgia's abortion law could become legal if the leaked draft opinion holds up.
The 2019 Georgia law would ban most abortions once a "detectable human heartbeat" is present, sometimes as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, before some women know they’re pregnant.
The law included exceptions for rape and incest if a police report is filed and provides for later abortions when the mother’s life is at risk or a serious medical condition renders a fetus unviable. Fetuses would have the same legal rights as people have after birth.
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"It’s actually quite ridiculous simply because we’ve already been through this and the fact their like trying to manipulate this whole situation," said Diamond, one of the protesters on Tuesday.
The peaceful and diverse group tripled in size from 4:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. They gathered 24 hours after the leak decision was first reported at Centennial Olympic Park and marched to the state Capitol, at times blocking traffic, but drawing a lot of attention. They joined hundreds of other protests across the United States.
Amid the homemade posters and signs from advocacy groups were placards supporting Planned Parenthood.
Hundreds paraded through the streets of Downtown Atlanta on Tuesday shouting "my body, my choice." They are hoping to send a clear message to those in power and hoping the Supreme Court will change its mind before its final decision.
FOX News and The Associated Press contributed to this report