‘Still in shock.’ Abortion defenders, foes stunned by leak

May 2, 2022, 11:38 PM | Updated: May 3, 2022, 6:33 pm
Anti-abortion activist, David Lane, stands outside the Jackson Women's Health Organization (JWHO), ...

Anti-abortion activist, David Lane, stands outside the Jackson Women's Health Organization (JWHO), Mississippi's last remaining abortion clinic, called the "Pinkhouse", Tuesday, May 3, 2022, in Jackson, Miss. Lane and other anti-abortion advocates, urge entering patients to not have the procedure. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

The phones inside an Alabama abortion clinic were ringing off the hook: the callers wanted to know if abortion remains legal. And, if so, for how long?

A leaked Supreme Court draft opinion was ricocheting around the world.

As Dalton Johnson, the clinic’s owner, read it Monday night, he was struck by the bluntness of the language that would end the constitutional right to an abortion, closing clinics in about half of American states, including his.

“I’m still in shock,” Johnson said Tuesday as he scrambled to reassure his staff and patients they would continue providing abortions as long as they’re allowed in Alabama.

People on both sides of the abortion divide have been expecting the Supreme Court this summer to reverse the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade cas e that legalized abortion nationwide. But many said the draft opinion was nevertheless stunning, forcing them to reckon with the reality the nation is likely to enter soon.

“I can’t stop crying,” said an elated Mississippi state Rep. Becky Currie, who sponsored the 2018 law that is the basis for the Supreme Court case. “I am not quite sure I have the words to express how I feel right now, but God has had his hands on that bill since the beginning.”

The leaked draft, published late Monday by Politico, is a 98-page opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which challenged the constitutionality of the Mississippi bill that banned abortion after 15 weeks. If the decision stands as written, it would also overturn Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1992 decision that protected abortion services even though it allowed states to add some limitations.

“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” the draft opinion states. It was signed by Justice Samuel Alito, a member of the court’s 6-3 conservative majority. According to Politico, four other justices — Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — have agreed with the opinion.

The draft opinion was written in February, and the language could change before the court issues its final ruling. As written, it would give states the power to decide the legality of abortion. Roughly half, largely in the South and Midwest, are likely to quickly ban abortion.

Abortion clinics in those states opened Tuesday morning, still seeing patients but uncertain about the future.

The daily rituals unfolded as they always do: some protesters screamed at people walking inside while other abortion opponents prayed, clinic escorts tried to shield patients and hustle them in the doors.

“Please overturn Roe v. Wade,” said Barbara Beavers, who stood outside the clinic in Jackson, Mississippi, on Tuesday, gently trying to persuade people against going inside. “Have mercy on our unborn children. We’re destroying our future, killing our babies.”

Inside clinics, the news prompted frantic phone calls, and abortion providers across America rushed to tell their patients that the clinics remained open.

“I immediately felt sick to my stomach,” said Tammi Kromenaker, who owns a clinic in Fargo, North Dakota. “And 20 million thoughts started going through my head about what can we do? What does my staff need to hear? What do our patients need to hear?”

She posted a notice on their website: “If you have an appointment at Red River Women’s Clinic, your appointment is safe.”

In Charleston, West Virginia, Katie Quinonez had barely slept the night before; she was having nightmares about the Supreme Court. She rushed into the clinic Tuesday morning, terrified that her patients would misunderstand the news and think that abortion was immediately outlawed. They posted on social media that abortion remains legal and the clinic is open, but they don’t know for how much longer.

She had been bracing for this news.

“But there was still this visceral reaction, this very devastating feeling,” Quinonez said. “This is a red alert moment. This is beyond a red alert moment. The building is on fire.”

At Johnson’s clinic in Huntsville, women called to ask whether they can still get an abortion. Johnson said his first call of the morning was from a woman who had an abortion scheduled for Friday and wanted to come in Tuesday instead.

The staff held a meeting, and Johnson says he asked them to focus on those still coming for abortions who need their help. The opinion was just a draft, he told them, and cautioned that it wasn’t the final decision.

Dr. Cheryl Hamlin, an OB-GYN from Boston, travels South about once a month to do abortions at Mississippi’s only abortion clinic. She said a lot of her patients won’t be able to afford the costs of going out of state to have an abortion, including paying for hotels and taking time off work.

Meanwhile, states that continue to allow abortions “are going to be overflowing with patients,” she said.

Some anti-abortion activists were skeptical that the draft would become reality, fixating instead on the fact that it was leaked the press and whether that implied political posturing.

“I’m hopeful,” said Dennis Westover, a 72-year-old retired electrical engineer, a regular protester outside the clinic in Charleston, West Virginia. But he was suspicious that someone leaked it as ammunition in the country’s intractable culture wars.

“When our Supreme Court stuff starts to be leaked, it’s egregious,” he said. “One side or the other did it for a political motive to stir up some kind of stink.”

In Louisville, Kentucky, protester Angela Minter said she prayed the draft opinion will be the final one.

“I’m excited today,” Minter said. “I believe it’s an indication of what’s to come.”

Minter thinks that’s God answering her prayers: She’s been coming to the clinic most mornings since 2004. Patients tried to dodge her and the other protesters screaming outside. “Don’t murder your baby,” one man shouted at a young woman. Clinic escorts in orange vests helped her into the building.

The Louisville clinic was closed for a week last month after the legislature banned abortion, until a court intervened. But if Roe falls, it will likely be shuttered again.

“I do anticipate a day with no abortion clinics in Kentucky,” said Meg Stern, who runs the Kentucky Health Justice Network and escorts at the clinic. Abortion access will now be an issue of privilege: People with the means to travel will be able to end their pregnancies.

“It’s the family that only has one vehicle and is already struggling to make ends meet. Maybe they’re in the city, maybe they’re in the rural parts of the state. But if they don’t have access to travel, lodging, gas money, food money, babysitters while they’re gone, time off work,” she said. “Do you have the car that will make it?”

For months now, the nation has had a glimpse of what that looks like. Texas banned abortion after six weeks in September. Planned Parenthood clinics in the surrounding states saw a 2,500% increase in patients, said Dr. Iman Alsaden, medical director for Planned Parenthood Great Plains.

Some Texans have arrived in Jackson, Mississippi, where Derenda Hancock volunteers as an escort.

“It’s only the people who can afford to get here that we’re seeing. It makes you think about all the people left behind at home that can’t afford to get here, that can’t make the trip. How are they faring?” she wondered. “They’re going to be forced to be mothers.”

Some groups are working to try to circumvent the law the best they can: mobile abortion units, fundraising for travel assistance, mail-order medications. One online women’s health provider reported a significant spike in requests for emergency contraception Tuesday. Democrat-leaning states like New York, California and Illinois are rushing to pass laws to protect abortion access, both for their residents and people coming from out of state.

If abortion is outlawed in North Dakota, Kromenaker is planning to open a clinic just across the river in Minnesota. She hopes the leaked draft shakes people enough to take action, right away.

She texted her husband Tuesday: “We’ve got to move forward very quickly now,” she wrote. “The urgency is there.”


Santana reported from New Orleans, Wagster Pettus from Jackson and Galofaro from Louisville. Leah Willingham contributed from Charleston, West Virginia, and Dylan Lovan from Louisville.


Follow more of AP’s coverage on abortion: https://apnews.com/hub/abortion

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE - A customer waits for service at a Optus phone store in Sydney, Australia, Thursday, Oct. 7, ...
Associated Press

Australian police probe purported hacker’s ransom demand

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australian police were investigating a report that a purported hacker had already released the stolen personal data of 10,000 Optus customers and was demanding a $1 million ransom in cryptocurrency, the telecommunications company’s chief executive said on Tuesday. The Australian government has blamed lax cybersecurity at the nation’s second-largest wireless carrier […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

Foes of Arizona voucher expansion likely fail to make ballot

PHOENIX (AP) — A massive expansion of Arizona’s private school voucher system will likely go into effect after public school advocates failed to gather enough signatures to block the law, a conservative think tank that supports the expansion said Monday. The Goldwater Institute, a conservative and libertarian public policy think tank in Phoenix, said Save […]
19 hours ago
FILE - In this image from a video, Japan's former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe makes a campaign speech...
Associated Press

Japan holding state funeral for ex-leader Abe amid tensions

TOKYO (AP) — Japan is filled with tension, rather than sadness, on Tuesday as a rare state funeral for the assassinated former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, one of the most divisive leader, deeply splits the nation. Tokyo was under maximum security, with a large number of uniformed police mobilize around the Budokan hall, where the […]
19 hours ago
In this photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, a Coast Guard Cutter Kimball crew-member observes a...
Associated Press

Patrol spots Chinese, Russian naval ships off Alaska island

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A U.S. Coast Guard ship on routine patrol in the Bering Sea came across a guided missile cruiser from China, officials said Monday. But it turned out the cruiser wasn’t alone as it sailed about 86 miles (138 kilometers) north of Alaska’s Kiska Island, on Sept. 19. The patrol boat, known […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

Appeals court blocks California ban on for-profit prisons

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A larger panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday again blocked California’s first-in-the-nation ban on for-profit private prisons and immigration detention facilities, finding that it is trumped by the federal government. A three-judge appellate panel last year rejected the 2019 state law that would have phased out […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

Ex-Nigerian official gets 5 years for pandemic fraud in US

SEATTLE (AP) — A former Nigerian government official was sentenced Monday to five years in prison for stealing more than $500,000 in pandemic relief benefits in the United States. Abidemi Rufai was wearing a $10,000 watch and $35,000 gold chain when he was arrested at JFK International Airport in New York on his way to […]
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
‘Still in shock.’ Abortion defenders, foes stunned by leak