Local elected officials are reacting to a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that shows the court’s intention to strike down the 1973 decision made in Roe v. Wade, which protects abortion rights. 

If the Supreme Court overturns Roe V. Wade, it would likely open a path for Georgia’s “heartbeat bill” that passed in 2019 but is still held up in court. That law would ban most abortions once a doctor detects a fetal heart beat, or typically about six weeks into pregnancy.

State Rep. Matthew Wilson.

State Rep. Matthew Wilson (D-Brookhaven) called the Supreme Court draft opinion the greatest setback for individual liberties in 50 years.

“To be clear, this isn’t the end of abortions – this only ensures more pregnancies will be terminated in unsafe conditions and more deaths will result from complications,” he said in an email. “This logic could lead to reversals of decisions protecting everything from consensual sex acts to interracial and same-sex marriage. It will be a sad – and for many minority groups, dangerous – day for this country if this draft becomes the law of the land.”

State Sen. Elena Parent.

Sen. Elena Parent (D-Atlanta), who represents areas including Brookhaven and Decatur, said that if Roe v. Wade is overturned, personal privacy issues would be severely undermined, if not destroyed.

“The right to choose if and when to have a family is deeply ingrained but also instrumental to women’s equality,” she said. “It’s extremely important and that can’t be understated … If women’s lives are out of control, all American lives are out of control.”

Parent added that the majority of Americans support abortion rights. A 2021 Gallup poll showed that 80% of people felt abortion should be legal under any or certain circumstances. 

State Rep. Shea Roberts.

State Rep. Shea Roberts (D-Sandy Springs) called the draft a “punch in the gut,” and said the decision would leave every American’s freedoms at risk, not just those of women. 

“I ran for office in 2020 because the Georgia legislature passed one of the strictest abortion bans in the country and I couldn’t stand by and watch our bodily autonomy and reproductive freedom be stripped,” she said in a statement, referring to Georgia’s controversial “heartbeat bill. “I know you’ve heard it before but it’s true – these upcoming elections are life and death – literally women will die if safe access to abortion is eliminated.” 

State Rep. Mike Wilensky.

State Rep. Mike Wilensky (D-Dunwoody) said on Twitter yesterday that he was still in shock over the leaked Supreme Court opinion. “More frustrating is thinking of my 2 daughters’ future. They should have the choice of their medical decisions. Especially when 70% of our society believes abortion should be allowed within 3 months.”

State Sen. Jen Jordan (D-Atlanta), who represents parts of Buckhead and Sandy Springs and is running for attorney general of Georgia, said as attorney general, she would fight for reproductive rights.

State Sen. Jen Jordan.

“If this decision holds, Georgia is the next battleground for reproductive freedom, and we need an Attorney General who will fight for our right to choose,” she said in a statement on her Instagram account. 

In an emailed statement, Oriaku Njoku – co-founder and executive director of Access Reproductive Care-Southeast – said the organization will not stop working toward reproductive freedom for all.

“While we are generally optimistic about getting to a future where Reproductive Justice is a reality for all of us in our lives, to not honor the realness of this leak would be delusional,” Njoku said. “At the same time, we must acknowledge that Roe never guarenteed that abortions would be accessible. For many of people we work with, the ability to access abortion care has already been pushed out of reach for decades. It is our daily reality. Access to abortion is not just about legality, it is about our dignity, our humanity, and our freedom.”

In a statement, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Georgia said that it will continue to defend a woman’s right to choose, and will consider its next steps if the draft opinion becomes reality. 

“Georgia’s ban on abortion remains blocked in the courts and abortions are still safe and legal in the state,” said ACLU of Georgia Legal Director Sean J. Young in an emailed statement. “The ACLU of Georgia will assess next steps as soon as possible after the Supreme Court issues its final decision.” 

Sammie Purcell is Associate Editor at Rough Draft Atlanta.

Amy Wenk was editor of Reporter Newspapers in 2021-22.