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IU legal scholar says overturning Roe would be groundbreaking  

A sticker saying 'Keep Abortion Legal'

(WTIU)

A leaked draft of a Supreme Court decision that would overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade means abortion could become illegal in much of the U.S. 

The court’s decision on a case originating in Mississippi is not expected until June. But a draft decision authored by Justice Alito indicates the court would side with the state of Mississippi and effectively overturn Roe as the law of the land.  

That would leave the decision on the legality of abortion to individual states. 

States such as Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas would likely vote to eliminate abortion altogether. 

“My guess is that legislators in Indiana will try to do that,” said Steve Sanders, an expert in constitutional law who teaches at IU’s Maurer School of Law. “And we’ll see if Governor Holcomb or the few sort of moderate elements still in the Republican party can exercise any sort of restraining effect on that.” 

If the Supreme Court’s final decision does overturn Roe, it would end a nearly 50-year guarantee of a woman’s right to an abortion nation-wide. 

“This is an earthquake,” Sanders said. “I mean, never before has the Supreme Court rolled back an individual personal right under the Constitution like this, that people had been accustomed to for almost 50 years.” 

He said he expects such a ruling would disproportionately affect the poor, because they would not have the means to travel to another state to have an abortion performed. 

“We’ve come to understand that the right to abortion is so important to women’s participation in education and the economy,” Sanders said. “And women have simply relied and planned their lives for so long on the idea that abortion is going to be available.” 

Sanders said the reversal of Roe could lead states to bring cases to court to overturn rights such as same-sex marriage. 

“I would have said a year ago that I didn’t think that was feasible,” Sanders said. “Now, I’m not so sure. You know, a right-wing Supreme Court majority willing to do this seems capable of potentially doing anything.” 

Sanders said because what was leaked was a draft opinion, it will likely change as other justices weigh in on the decision. 

“I still would urge caution,” Sanders said. “Justice Alito is a maximalist, and it makes sense he was going to swing for the fences in writing this. That doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what the opinion would have looked like when it’s finally issued.” 

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