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Anti-abortion supporters cheer possible overturn of Roe v. Wade ruling

In Florida, Gov. DeSantis and Republican legislative leaders so far have focused on the fact that the decision was leaked.
A group of anti-abortion protesters pray together in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, Dec. 1, 2021, in Washington, as the court hears arguments in a case from Mississippi, where a 2018 law would ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, well before viability.
A group of anti-abortion protesters pray together in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, Dec. 1, 2021, in Washington, as the court hears arguments in a case from Mississippi, where a 2018 law would ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, well before viability. [ ANDREW HARNIK | AP ]
Published May 4

The leak of a draft opinion indicating the Supreme Court’s intention to overturn Roe v. Wade has anti-abortion groups and conservatives celebrating what, in their view, could be momentum to further restrict the procedure’s legality in Florida.

“This is a huge day for those of us who have worked almost all of our lives to see this moment happen,” said John Stemberger, the president and general counsel of the Christian conservative Florida Family Policy Council.

But as some activist groups and conservative lawmakers call for more anti-abortion measures in the state, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republican legislative leaders so far are largely focused on the fact that the decision was leaked — more so than the impact the possible ruling could have on policy.

Related: Will Florida Republicans ban abortion? Here's what we know.

DeSantis called the leaked draft opinion a “judicial insurrection.” House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, said he is “eagerly” awaiting the court’s final opinion, while adding that the leak was a “stunning breach of trust” and “lack of honor by the individual responsible.” One state representative blamed “woke leftists” for the leak.

State Rep. Anthony Sabatini, a Howey-in-the-Hills Republican who often clashes with Republican leaders, said Roe “should have been overturned decades ago.” He added the Legislature should approve a six-week abortion ban, also known as the “heartbeat” bill. Other Republican lawmakers responded to the opinion in more general terms.

By contrast, several of Florida’s top-ranking Democrats spent the entire day on Tuesday holding news conferences in which they made impassioned statements on abortion rights and raised the alarm on what could come next.

Some religious groups have welcomed the news, calling it an opportunity to “restore America to a posture of valuing all human life” and “reasonable restrictions” on abortion at the state level.

“Reversing Roe v. Wade would not ban abortion, as alarmists insist — on the contrary, it would restore this policy decision to the hands of the democratic government of the individual states,” the Coalition for Jewish Values, a conservative coalition that represents more than 2,000 Orthodox rabbis. said in a statement.

The Archdiocese of Miami has not released a statement in response to the leaked opinion. In December, Archbishop Thomas Wenski wrote a column that said “it’s time to overturn Roe v. Wade.”

Related: Florida politicians react to leaked draft opinion on overturning Roe v. Wade

On Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, which represents 1.3 million Roman Catholics in Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties, said: “It’s imperative that we wait until the Supreme Court releases its decision before issuing a statement.”

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The draft, which is authentic but not final, according to the court, was authored by Justice Samuel Alito.

In the 98-page draft majority opinion, published by Politico, Alito wrote the U.S. Constitution does not support a right to abortion and that it should be an issue decided by the states.

Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Alito wrote. “Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.”

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, welcomed the news, saying such a ruling would return the abortion issue to the states, “where it belongs.”

State Rep. Mike Beltran, R-Lithia, said the draft opinion was “beautifully written.”

“Probably some of a very good jurist’s best work,” Beltran posted on Twitter.

Related: Florida Democrats hope anti-abortion Supreme Court ruling could supercharge governor's race

But as most Republicans did, the focus was on the fact that the opinion was leaked.

“Last night’s news was an amazing victory for our constitutional republic and a terrible reminder that some woke leftists will stop at nothing to destroy it,” said state Rep. Randy Fine, a Palm Bay Republican.

There have been no reports of the source of the leaked opinion.

Sen. Rick Scott said the leak violates the “sacred” deliberation process of the Supreme Court that protects it from political interference.

“This breach shows that radical Democrats are working even harder to intimidate & undermine the Court,” Scott tweeted. “It was always their plan. The justices cannot be swayed by this attack.”

Miami Herald staff writer Aaron Leibowitz contributed to this report.

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