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Gov. JB Pritzker, Illinois Democrats vow to protect abortion rights after leaked Supreme Court draft opinion on Roe v. Wade

Possible overturn of Roe v. Wade prompts Illinois Democrats to vow to protect abortion rights 06:12

CHICAGO (CBS/AP) -- In the wake of news that a draft opinion circulated among the U.S. Supreme Court justices would overturn abortion rights, Gov. JB Pritzker and a coalition of Democratic state lawmakers on Tuesday vowed Illinois will remain a safe haven for women's reproductive rights as long as Democrats control the governor's office and state legislature.

"Let me be clear, no matter what atrocious opinion the Supreme Court rolls out this summer in regards to Roe v. Wade, abortion is safe and legal in Illinois," Pritzker said Tuesday morning at the Thompson Center, flanked by more than a dozen Democratic state lawmakers.

Those lawmakers stood by Pritzker's vow to stand by 2017 legislation that was passed to keep abortion legal in Illinois if the historic 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade is overturned. That same law also provided state health insurance and Medicaid coverage for abortions.

"I was in high school, when girls that needed abortions..some were hurt, some traveled to other states, I cannot believe we are standing here today since 1973 that womens bodily autonimy is under attack, no government has the right to tell a women what to do with her body," said Illinois State Sen. Melinda Bush.

"A decision to overturn Roe v. Wade does not mean that abortions will stop happening. It just means that in half of the states where their governors and legislatures have declared war on productive rights, women will be forced in dangerous and sometimes deadly situations," Pritzker said.

The governor said he and Democratic lawmakers in Illinois are ready to fight back if the Supreme Court does, in fact, overturn Roe v. Wade.

The report published Monday in Politico referenced a draft opinion circulated among Supreme Court justices about the case that legalized abortion nationwide. It amounted to a stunning breach of court confidentiality.

The Supreme Court said Tuesday that the draft opinion that indicated the court may overturn the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade is "authentic," but stressed the document does not represent the final decision of the court.

"Although the document described in yesterday's reports is authentic, it does not represent a decision by the court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case," the court said in a statement.

Chief Justice John Roberts separately lambasted the leak of the draft opinion obtained and published by Politico late Monday, calling it a "betrayal of the confidences of the court," and said he directed the marshal of the court to launch an investigation into the source of the leak.

"This was a singular and egregious breach of that trust that is an affront to the court and the community of public servants who work here," he said in a statement.

Roberts also said efforts to "undermine the integrity" of the Supreme Court's operations will not succeed.

"The work of the court will not be affected in any way," he said. "We at the court are blessed to have a workforce – permanent employees and law clerks alike – intensely loyal to the institution and dedicated to the rule of law. Court employees have an exemplary and important tradition of respecting the confidentiality of the judicial process and upholding the trust of the court."

The draft opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, appears to have been circulated among the justices in February. But votes by the court's members can change as drafts are exchanged, and a decision is not final until it is handed down by the Supreme Court, in this case, by late June or early July.

The statement from the court notes that justices "circulate draft opinions internally as a routine and essential part of the court's confidential deliberative work."

Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a statement Monday night also denouncing the reported draft opinion.

"Tonight, I join the chorus of millions of people nationwide who are sickened and enraged to learn that the Supreme Court has seemingly voted to strike down Roe v. Wade. This landmark decision has paved the way for women in need of reproductive care to access safe abortions for decades and importantly, decide for themselves the circumstances under which they chose to bear children. If this draft opinion becomes the law of the land, women and their families will suffer, needlessly.  

"And make no mistake, this decision will reverse the gains that women have made in the workplace and every other aspect of their lives since the Court first decided Roe.  Also, the architects of this destruction will not stop at a woman's right to choose. The Court's draft opinion will establish a precedent for gutting the legal underpinnings used to protect against gender-based discrimination overall including women's rights, trans rights, immigrant rights, and of course, the right to same-sex and interracial marriage. This decision truly epitomizes the dangers that exist at the intersection of racism and sexism.

"This Court truly does not care about settled legal precedent or its legitimacy as an independent body. The zeal with which Alito writes on behalf of the majority about the end of Roe leaves no doubt that the right-wing majority cares more about politics than the law. For shame.

"I also want to speak directly to those who are feeling the real-world impacts of these seismic shifts. We see you and we want you to know that your rights, your circumstances, and your choices matter. Chicago will continue to be a haven for those seeking access to the full range of safe reproductive care. We will also continue to fight in Chicago to protect the right to choose, and will not stop fighting to protect this right in our surrounding counties and states. Do not let this setback be a lasting defeat. People of goodwill still have the most important tool in our democracy — the right to vote. We will and we must vote them out."

Meanwhile, many Democratic members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation issued tweets denouncing the reported draft opinion, with some also denouncing the party on the other side of the aisle. Only one Republican member of Congress from Illinois issued had a tweet that appeared to refer to the decision as of late Monday night.

U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (D-Illinois) issued a tweet calling on the Senate to pass the Women's Health Protection Act, which has already passed the U.S. House.

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois) issued a thread of tweets calling the draft opinion an "emergency" that would "represent a tragic step backwards for equal rights under the law.

U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Illinois) took aim at the national Republican Party, accusing the party of "stealing" Supreme Court seats to create a conservative supermajority.

U.S. Rep. Marie Newman (D-Illinois) also took direct aim at Republican rivals.

Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Illinois) tweeted, "The leaked SCOTUS opinion on Roe v Wade will set women's rights back generations. Black women & those living in rural areas will be worst impacted."

Rep. Sean Casten (D-Illinois) called for congressional legislation protecting abortion rights.

"Scream tonight. Cry tonight. Get angry tonight. And tomorrow, get to work," he tweeted.

Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Illinois) also issued a thread of tweets that began: "If the draft opinion is accurate and the Supreme Court is about to overturn Roe—and with it, nearly 50 years of established precedent—millions of women across America will be denied their rights and America will be less free. We are staring down an emergency."

In a news release, Rep. Raja Krisnhamoorthi (D-Illinois) wrote:

"For more than half a century, the right to choose has been a fundamental, sacred right protected by the Constitution.  This evening's leaked draft of the Supreme Court majority opinion reveals the final blow they plan to deliver to this sacred right by overturning Roe v. Wade. While this is only a draft opinion, it is also a warning of the grim reality that may befall our nation for all who ever believed that the right to make reproductive decisions should fall to individual women, not Congress, the President, nor Supreme Court Justices who will never have to live a day in their shoes.

"In the days and weeks ahead, I will join my colleagues in Congress and Americans across the country in speaking out for reproductive rights, defending them in legislative chambers, court rooms, and on street corners across our nation. While many of the consequences of this draft decision remain in doubt, there must be no doubt of the commitment of so many of us to ensuring that access to safe, affordable reproductive health care will survive – if not through the ruling of our highest court, then through the dedicated efforts of individual Americans."

Meanwhile, Rep. Mary Miller (R-Illinois), while not specifically making reference to the reported draft opinion, issued a tweet with a Biblical passage Monday night while adding, "Pray for life!"

Jesse Sullivan, a Republican candidate for governor, also issued a statement in favor of the reported draft opinion – with what his campaign called "prayerful gratitude and unbridled optimism:"

"While the decision isn't official – and could yet be months away – I'm overjoyed at what could be a generational change in the soul of our country. Prayer works, and my prayer tonight is gratitude. Our prayers, our persistence, and our patriotism could save millions of lives for generations to come. 

"Tonight shows the kind of change that Conservatives can make when we stick together – when we focus on what we can achieve, instead of the politics and politicians that tear us apart.

"Under Gov. J.B. Pritzker and decades of pro-abortion leaders, Illinois has become the abortion destination capital of the Midwest. Abortion tourism, and abortions paid for by Illinois taxpayers, should never be accepted. 

"This Supreme Court decision, which puts more power back in the hands of the states, threatens to make Illinois's current abortion laws even more heinous, and abortion tourism even more prevalent.

"We must put an end to late-term, partial birth abortions. We must put an end to taxpayer-funded abortions. We must bring back parental notification for minors. We must make adoptions easier for struggling mothers and more affordable for families called to bring these children into their homes, as our family was.

"This race for governor is even more clear today – it's between politicians we can't trust and the mistakes of the past on one side, and a campaign that proudly puts faith first and a chance to make a real change on the other.

"Today, the difference is life or death."

Fellow Republican candidate for governor Darren Bailey also issued a statement in response to the draft opinion:

"Cindy and I continue to pray for life and our nation. I am proudly pro-life and endorsed by every major pro-life group in the state. I have stated from the beginning that I would help and promote policies and groups that help empower women with real options and save lives. We live in a state where Democrats hold a supermajority in both chambers, but our laws are too extreme. As Governor, my focus will be restoring parental notification, ending taxpayer-funded abortion, and prioritizing and ensuring viable options that save lives and support women and families before, during, and after pregnancy."

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