The most prominent national news story of the day early Tuesday — that a leaked draft of a United States Supreme Court opinion striking down the Roe v. Wade abortion law may have been written — was based on an unconfirmed report by one news blog but was treated as gospel by traditional media because it is an important issue to their partners on the left.
We can't help think of the Hunter Biden laptop story and its revelations by one news source late in the 2020 presidential election cycle that might have changed the course of the campaign. But the media protecting then-candidate Joe Biden, Hunter's father, would not publish the news or pursue new leads on the story, calling it false, Russian propaganda or a conspiracy to defeat Biden.
Since then, some of the media outlets have grudgingly acknowledged the truth of the revelations and their error in not pursuing the story. Some, though, have chosen to remain mum about their bias.
But on to today.
The Associated Press, whose account of the Supreme Court draft this newspaper used in its Tuesday edition, even said in its account it could not confirm the authenticity of the draft posted initially by Politico. Most national news sources don't publish news without authenticating it. But this proved to be an exception.
Politico acknowledged only receiving "a copy of the draft opinion from a person familiar with the court's proceedings in the Mississippi case [on which the ruling will be made] along with other details supporting the authenticity of the document."
On Tuesday, though, the court, after first refusing comment, acknowledged the draft was accurate, though even the early news accounts noted that votes and opinions in a case aren't final — and often can change dramatically — until a decision is announced or posted on the court's website. They also allowed that the draft was at least three months old.
But the news itself — who is surprised this is the thinking of a conservative majority of high court justices? Those who don't favor killing infants in the womb have been hoping for such a day since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, and those who want the law to remain have been warning this day would come since President Donald Trump filled an open seat on the court to give conservatives a solid majority there in late 2020.
What's shocking is that anybody — anybody — believes a Supreme Court decision striking down a constitutional right to an abortion will stop abortion in the United States. It will, instead, be a matter for states to determine, as it should have been all along.
Not only will left-leaning states continue promoting abortions, but they also will likely ramp up their offerings to serve those from states where the procedure will be illegal.
In some states, like Tennessee, trigger laws are in effect. If the court strikes down the Roe v. Wade decision, the Human Life Protection Act passed in 2019 goes into effect. It would make providing abortions — with limited exceptions — a felony (though not to the mother), and those who do could lose voting rights and face other consequences such as fines or jail time.
In Georgia, a "heartbeat" law was passed in 2019, forbidding an abortion after cardiac activity is detected, which can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. The law is currently blocked by courts, but the injunction could be lifted if the 49-year-old high court ruling is struck down.
Alabama, meanwhile, never repealed its pro-Roe abortion ban, so it's conceivable that law would be in effect when the Supreme Court rules.
Abortions peaked at 29.3 per 1,000 women in the United States in the early 1980s. They have fallen steadily since the early 1990s, thanks to a lower overall birth rate, more people using contraception, more women able to access medication abortions, a better understanding of when life begins and the restrictions some states have put on the procedure.
The leaked draft opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, said, "Roe was egregiously wrong from the start," maintained in effect there is no constitutional right to abortion and said the states would be able to determine their way forward on the procedure.
"It is time to heed the Constitution," he wrote, "and return the issue of abortion to the people's elected representatives."
Alito, in explaining Roe "was on a collision course with the Constitution from the day it was decided," both eviscerated the previous argument and explained by citing a multitude of rulings how "some of our most important constitutional decisions have overruled prior precedent."
Yet, because the abortion news is based on a draft, and much could change between now and a final decision in late June or early July, an opinion at this point is as useless as proclaiming the winner of a sports contest based on the first score.
But to hear — if the opinion stands — that the Constitution in fact upholds the sanctity of life is a moral breath of fresh air, to be sure.