A draft opinion suggests the U.S. Supreme Court could be poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, according to a Politico report released Monday. It's unclear if the draft represents the final decision of the court, which is not expected for several weeks.
The news had people quickly turning to Google to ask a number of questions about the current abortion laws in the U.S. and what happens if the draft released Monday turns out to be the final decision. Here's what they were asking.
What is Roe v. Wade?
The landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that legalized abortion nationwide.
When was Roe v. Wade decided?
What happens if Roe v. Wade is overturned?
If Roe v. Wade is overturned, it would give states freedom to decide whether to ban abortion. It would also allow them to determine if there are any exceptions to those bans, such as if it presents a risk to the health of the mother; in cases of rape or incest, or; if abortion would be illegal after a certain date, such as six weeks or 15 weeks after conception.
Which states would ban abortion?
Twenty-six states are certain or likely to ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned, according to the pro-abortion rights think tank the Guttmacher Institute. Of those, these 22 states already have total or near-total bans on the books that are currently blocked by Roe, aside from Texas.
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Others that could ban abortion are Florida, Indiana, Montana and Nebraska.
Why is Roe v. Wade being overturned?
It's important to be clear that Roe v. Wade has not been overturned and it's still possible that it won't be. What Politico released on Monday was a leaked, draft opinion dated in February. It is not the final ruling, which is expected sometime this summer. As the Associated Press reports, "it's unclear if the draft represents the court’s final word on the matter — opinions often change in ways big and small in the drafting process."
Abortion rights are one of the most polarizing political issues of the past half-century since the Roe v. Wade ruling. Both abortion-rights and anti-abortion activists have said for years that they believed the decision could one day be reversed.