WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — Voters are going to the polls for the first time this primary season Tuesday, just hours after a bombshell leaked draft suggests the Supreme Court could overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide.
The multistate contest of the 2022 midterm election season is unfolding as Ohio voters pick nominees for governor and the U.S. Senate while Indiana voters consider whether their Legislature should become even more conservative. A decision to overrule Roe would lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states and could have huge ramifications for this year’s elections. But 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.
The draft was released by Politico Monday evening and Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the authenticity of a leaked draft opinion Tuesday morning.
The unprecedented leak comes as many candidates made abortion a campaign issue from the start, both Democrats and Republicans alike.
“Overturning Roe would be absolutely wrong. Not to mention catastrophic for Ohio, where Republicans have introduced one extreme proposal after another to ban abortion before most women even know they’re pregnant,” current U.S. Rep. and Ohio Senate candidate Tim Ryan said on Twitter. “We must fight back. Ohioans’ most fundamental rights are at stake.”
While Democrats denounced the substance of the draft ruling, GOP leaders condemned the leak itself, with some saying it was evidence of hostility toward conservative views.
“The left continues its assault on the Supreme Court with an unprecedented breach of confidentiality, clearly meant to intimidate,” wrote Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley (R). “The Justices mustn’t give in to this attempt to corrupt the process. Stay strong.”
NewsNation’s Joe Khalil reported that while a potential abortion ban would be a win for many conservatives, some Republicans believe it could come back to haunt them in November.
“I have talked to a lot of Republicans both here on Capitol Hill and in the campaign sphere, who had privately for months said that if there was one issue that could possibly fire up Democrats and make life a lot harder in November for Republicans, it would be this that the Supreme Court would overturn Roe,” Khalil said on “Morning in America.” “You could have a serious turnout in the Democratic base that would otherwise be maybe apathetic or sit out the election. Now they have a reason and have a rallying cry. So it’s obviously a long way away from November but for now, this is the one issue Republicans were looking at that they considered could be a serious challenge for them and something that fires up Democratic voters.”
This November, there are 36 gubernatorial elections on the ballot. Ones to watch, where governors could have an impact on what Republican-controlled legislatures may do on abortion rights, are Michigan and Wisconsin. Both Democratic incumbents are up for re-election.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer tweeting Monday night: “I will fight like hell to make sure abortion remains safe, legal and accessible in our state.” Her tweet comes as likely Republican frontrunner James Craig said he would do whatever he can to keep Democrats from repealing a pre-Roe abortion ban.
A Roe decision could also play into the Senate races this November with 35 Senate races on the ballot. And even just one state could cause Democrats to lose their razor-thin majority.
A Supreme Court spokeswoman said the court had no comment and NewsNation could not immediately confirm the authenticity of the draft Politico posted, which dates from February.
President Joe Biden addressed the leak Tuesday morning, first acknowledging the draft may not be genuine or reflect the final decision of the court. Biden continued hitting back on the precedent set, restrictive abortion laws and imploring Americans to vote in November.
The report comes amid a legislative push to restrict abortion in several Republican-led states — Oklahoma being the most recent — even before the court issues its decision. Critics of those measures have said low-income women will disproportionately bear the burden of the new restrictions.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.