Barack and Michelle Obama are the latest prominent voices added to public outrage over the leaked draft opinion that shows a majority on the Supreme Court will likely soon reverse the Roe v. Wade decision.
Roe v. Wade was the Court’s 1973 decision that effectively legalized abortion in the United States by ruling that the government could not interfere with a woman’s right to privacy in making medical decisions. Should the draft opinion, which leaked Monday evening, take effect as an official ruling, it would automatically trigger severe abortion restrictions or outright bans in at least 20 states and clear the way for any other state to do so, unless Congress acts by passing a law codifying abortion as a legal right.
The Obamas posted a three-page statement to Instagram on Tuesday deriding the draft opinion, which could also provide a legal pretext for curtailing rights far beyond abortion.
“If the Supreme Court ultimately decides to overturn the landmark case of Roe v. Wade, then it will not only reverse nearly 50 years of precedent — it will relegate the most intensely personal decision someone can make to the whims of politicians and ideologues,” the statement reads. The draft decision “simply forces folks to give up any constitutionally recognized interest in what happens to their body once they get pregnant,” without attempting to balance or consider any other interest in women’s health, safety or personal liberty,” it continued.
Barack Obama, a Democrat, served as president from 2009 until 2017. His one Supreme Court appointee, Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, is reportedly not one of the five justices who concur with the draft opinion, which was written by Associate Justice Samuel Alito in February.
Current U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland was nominated for the Court by Obama as well, but Republican and then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked hearings and a vote on his confirmation. Republican ex-president Donald Trump then nominated three associate justices—Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, all of whom were confirmed by the Senate and all of whom reportedly voted in favor of reversing Roe.