‘We’re all disappointed’: Abortion rights protests form in Austin over leaked Supreme Court draft opinion


Leila Saidane/The Daily Texan

After marching from Republic Square, protestors arrive at the Capitol steps on May 3, 2022. The crowd echoed chants such as “my body, my choice.”

Leila Saidane, News Reporter

Hundreds of protestors marched through the streets of downtown Austin to the steps of the State Capitol on Tuesday evening to protest the United States Supreme Court’s intention to overturn Roe v. Wade, according to an unprecedented publication of a leaked draft opinion by Politico yesterday.

The draft does not indicate the final decision of the Supreme Court, but if the court overturns the decision this summer, performing abortions will be made a felony in Texas under a “trigger law” passed by legislature last year, effective 30 days after the decision. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, Texas healthcare professionals that assist in providing abortions may face life in prison and fines of up to $100,000.

The law allows exceptions in life-threatening situations or if the pregnant patient risks substantial impairment of a major bodily function.

In front of the Capitol, protestors held signs reading, “You can only ban safe abortions,” and, “Keep your religion and politics out of our uteruses.”

“Collectively, everyone was shocked but also not shocked at the same time,” anthropology freshman Annabel Kilroy said. “That just speaks to our expectations for our government and protecting our rights. I don’t have a lot of hope that change will happen fast after this.”

Mercedes M., a human biology sophomore whose name is abbreviated for privacy, said she’s frustrated abortion access is more restricted in Texas than it is in her home country of Mexico, and hopes the possible restriction to abortion access in the U.S. doesn’t influence other countries.

“Mexico is a country that’s (about 80%) Catholic and it’s still legal there, and people are okay with it even though it’s a largely religious country, ” Mercedes said. “I feel like the United States is also religious, but in the Constitution they separated church and state, and yet, religion is being quoted to make some decisions. … I am proud to live here and I’m proud of being in a country where there’s a lot more freedom than there is over there, so I just think it’s very backwards.”

Texas’ current Senate Bill 8, which went into effect Sept. 1, creates a total near-ban on all abortions, restricting the procedure as early as six weeks or after fetal heartbeat detection. Under the law, private citizens can sue those who receive, provide or aid an abortion.

The case mentioned in the leaked draft opinion will be voted on this summer, as the Court addresses the Mississippi ban on abortions after 15 weeks. Historically, the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade has been upheld when facing bans on abortions before a fetus is considered likely to survive outside the womb, including in the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruling.

The conservative majority court will reconsider this precedent, according to the draft opinion.

​​“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” the draft states. “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

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