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North Carolina reacts to leaked Roe v. Wade opinion from SCOTUS

A crowd of people gather outside the Supreme Court, Monday night, May 2, 2022 in Washington.
Anna Johnson
A crowd of people gather outside the Supreme Court, Monday night, May 2, 2022 in Washington. A draft opinion circulated among Supreme Court justices suggests that earlier this year a majority of them had thrown support behind overturning the 1973 case Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion nationwide, according to a report published Monday night in Politico.

Folks across North Carolina — including state lawmakers — have been reacting to a report from Politico containing a leaked first draft of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overrule Roe V. Wade, which would overturn the right to abortion that the landmark decision had established in 1973.

On Tuesday morning, Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the authenticity of the leaked draft and said he had ordered an investigation into what he called an “egregious breach of trust.”

In the high court’s first public comment since the draft was published late Monday, Roberts said: “Although the document described in yesterday’s reports is authentic, it does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case.”

According to the report, Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr., Clarence Thomas, Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.

After the leak on Monday night, a crowd of hundreds of people gathered outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., to protest.

While some went to the Supreme Court, some of the top political playmakers in North Carolina reached for their phones, typing out messages to Twitter.

Republican Congressman Mark Walker — who is running for U.S. Senate this election cycle — likened the report to a victory. His top opponents in the primary, former Gov. Pat McCrory and Trump-endorsed Ted Budd, had not tweeted about the report as of Tuesday morning.

Scandal-ridden Congressman Madison Cawthorn — an ally of the far right fringes of the Republican party — interpreted the report not as a win, but something that could sway the Supreme Court.

Tami Fitzgerald, the executive director of the North Carolina Values Coalition — one of the most prominent grassroots pro-life organizations in the state — said in a statement: "If Roe and Casey are overturned, as the draft opinion indicates, we must build consensus for the strongest protections possible for unborn children and women in North Carolina, and we are ready for this moment in history."

If, as the report indicates, the Supreme Court does overturn Roe v. Wade, then abortion law will largely be left up to governors and state lawmakers. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, acknowledged as much in his tweet.

Among those also alarmed by the Politico report are abortion rights groups in North Carolina.

Justine Orlovsky-Schnitzler is the engagement director with the Carolina Abortion Fund, which helps people with abortion expenses and scheduling.

“The South has felt like it's been post-Roe for a long time. Abortion is already very inaccessible for a lot of people, particularly the most vulnerable,” Orlovsky-Schnitzler said. “And we know no matter what happens at the Supreme Court people are still going to need abortion care and certain groups of people will always be able to access it.”

Longtime Democratic Congressman David Price also weighed-in on Roe v. Wade. Price is not seeking re-election this year after serving in the U.S. House for more than 30 years.

One of the Democrats running for Price's seat — Durham County commissioner Nida Allam — shared a story about her own abortion on Twitter.

In a separate tweet, Allam wrote: "I’m overwhelmed. My abortion was one of the hardest decisions of my life, but without that life saving procedure I wouldn’t have been able to become pregnant with my daughter. This is personal to me. People should have the right to make decisions about their own bodies."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Mitchell Northam is a Digital Producer for WUNC. His past work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, SB Nation, the Orlando Sentinel and the Associated Press. He is a graduate of Salisbury University and is also a voter in the AP Top 25 poll for women's college basketball.
Bradley George is WUNC's AM reporter. A North Carolina native, his public radio career has taken him to Atlanta, Birmingham, Nashville and most recently WUSF in Tampa. While there, he reported on the COVID-19 pandemic and was part of the station's Murrow award winning coverage of the 2020 election. Along the way, he has reported for NPR, Marketplace, The Takeaway, and the BBC World Service. Bradley is a graduate of Guilford College, where he majored in Theatre and German.
Dave DeWitt is WUNC's Supervising Editor for Politics and Education. As an editor, reporter, and producer he's covered politics, environment, education, sports, and a wide range of other topics.
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