‘A truly dark day’: Murphy, Wolf react to Supreme Court draft opinion on Roe v. Wade

Kitty Kolbert, a public-interest attorney who was part of the team that argued Planned Parenthood v. Casey, spokes to the ramifications of the draft opinion.

The exterior of the Supreme Court

In this Oct. 7, 2020, file photo the Supreme Court in Washington is shown. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

This story originally appeared on 6abc.

Local governors are reacting after an apparent draft Supreme Court opinion shows the panel’s conservative majority of justices is ready to overturn nearly 50 years of established abortion rights precedent since Roe v. Wade.

“A truly dark day in America with the news reports that the Supreme Court has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade,” New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, a Democrat, tweeted Monday night. “This year, I signed the Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act – codifying a woman’s right to choose into state law. New Jersey will not go backwards on reproductive rights.”

Murphy continued in a subsequent tweet, “I want to assure every New Jerseyan that today’s news about the Supreme Court does not change access to abortion in our state. Access to reproductive health care remains available to anyone who needs it in New Jersey.”

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, issued a statement as well.

“Abortion is and will remain legal in Pennsylvania,” Wolf tweeted.

He added, “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”

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

So far, Delaware Governor John Carney has not issued a statement.

The document, which Politico said it obtained from a “person familiar with the court’s proceedings,” is marked “first draft” and dated Feb. 10, 2022 — two months after oral arguments were heard in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. ABC News has not independently confirmed the draft.

“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” writes Justice Samuel Alito, the opinion’s apparent author, in a copy of the draft posted online.

Reached by ABC News, a Supreme Court spokeswoman declined to comment.

The Dobbs case involves Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy — well before fetal viability, the longstanding dividing line established by the court before which states cannot restrict a woman’s access to the procedure.

During arguments in December, five of the justices hinted that they were ready to do away with the “viability standard” established by Roe and a subsequent 1992 decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

Kitty Kolbert, a Temple University graduate and public-interest attorney, was part of the team that argued the landmark 1992 case, in which the court reaffirmed the abortion rights enshrined in Roe.

“What this means is that the Supreme Court is permitting states to ban abortion,” Kolbert said. “That means, as probably as 25 states in this country, from Georgia all the way west to Texas, from Idaho down to the Mexico border will ban abortion and that means hundreds of thousands of women of child-bearing age who are facing unattended pregnancies will have to travel hundreds, if not thousands of miles to obtain what is now perfectly legal medical care.”

Kolbert added, “What does that mean? It’s disastrous for women’s health.”

An unnamed source familiar with the deliberations told Politico that Justices Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett all initially supported a ruling siding with Mississippi and “that line-up remains unchanged as of this week.”

The drafting of Supreme Court opinions, however, is a fluid and dynamic process, sources familiar with the internal operations have told ABC News. The document posted suggests a majority of justices is likely to side with Mississippi, but how broad a ruling will ultimately come down remains unclear.

Chief Justice John Roberts famously changed his vote late during deliberations over the Affordable Care Act in 2012, narrowly saving the law from being struck down. A Wall Street Journal editorial this month suggested that Roberts, who reveres established precedent and the court’s reputation, may be trying to convince one of his conservative colleagues to join him in a narrower opinion.

If Alito’s opinion were to hold, as written, it would dramatically upend abortion rights across America, effectively allowing each state to set its own policy.

“The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion,” the draft concludes. “Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives.”


ABC News contributed to this report.

Get the WHYY app!

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal