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The Supreme Court votes to overturn Roe v. Wade in unprecedented leaked draft decision

May 3, 2022, 1:46 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! It’s AAPI Equal Pay Day, attendees embrace gilded glamor at the Met Gala, and the Supreme Court has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, according to a leaked draft decision.

– Decision made. Last night, Politico published a groundbreaking report. The publication’s reporters obtained a draft Supreme Court decision written by Justice Samuel Alito, suggesting the court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, nearly 50 years later. The decision sides with the state of Mississippi and its 15-week abortion ban in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health and is the first time “a draft decision in the modern history of the court has been disclosed publicly while a case was still pending.”

Justices can change votes as a decision makes its way to its final form (Politico does a good job outlining the process of a Supreme Court decision in its story). For now, the site reports, five of the court’s conservative justices (Alito, Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Clarence Thomas) have voted to overturn Roe, with the three liberal justices dissenting and Chief Justice John Roberts’ vote still unknown. The decision isn’t final until it’s published by the court.

Abortion rights advocates have been bracing for such a ruling for months, if not years. The court heard oral arguments on the case in December, and experts have said to expect the court’s decision on abortion rights this summer; the court has two months before the end of its term to issue its remaining decisions.

Even if this decision isn’t surprising, it’s still emotional and terrifying for many, particularly women from marginalized communities. Understanding that the conservative court may likely overturn abortion rights this term was one thing; reading that decision in its potentially near-final form is another experience entirely.

Alito describes Roe v. Wade as “egregiously wrong,” the same language justices have used to describe Plessy v. Ferguson, which upheld racial segregation, and Korematsu v. United States, which allowed the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. “The Constitution makes no reference to abortion,” Alito writes, “and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision.”

The justice also cites historical links between abortion and eugenics, and claims that eliminating the right to abortion at a national level doesn’t hurt women because women have gained political power. (Nevermind that bodily autonomy has allowed women to make that progress.) “Women are not without electoral or political power,” he writes. “The percentage of women who register to vote and cast ballots is consistently higher than the percentage of men who do so.”

You can read the full text of the document in Politico’s story.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, author of a leaked draft decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade.
Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

The draft decision also states that the right to abortion will again become a matter decided by “the people and their elected representatives.” But another blockbuster report published yesterday morning outlined anti-abortion activists’ strategy to impose a six-week ban on abortion at the federal level. The Supreme Court ruling on Roe and a filibuster-proof GOP majority in the Senate would allow such legislation to pass, the Washington Post reports.

While the decision isn’t yet law of the land, companies have increasingly taken public stances in preparation for such a ruling. Amazon told employees yesterday that it will reimburse employees up to $4,000 per year if they’re forced to travel over 100 miles to receive an abortion. Yelp and Citigroup have also pledged to help employees travel for abortion access, and more companies will likely feel pressured to offer similar protections.

Still, lawmakers could codify the right to abortion in federal law; passing the Women’s Health Protection Act would likely require the elimination of the filibuster. Pregnant people, meanwhile, will continue to deal with the consequences of already extreme state bans on abortion.

Politico stands by its reporting, with editors saying they are confident in the authenticity of the document. Some abortion rights groups, meanwhile, are urging caution, issuing reminders that abortion is, for now, still legal nationwide.

The Supreme Court’s decision, while not yet binding, seems to have been made.

Emma Hinchliffe

The Broadsheet is Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women. Today’s edition was curated by Paige McGlauflin. Subscribe here.


- Fashion forward. The Met Gala had uncanny timing; celebrities dressed for the theme "gilded glamor" as last night's Supreme Court news broke. (Hillary Clinton even showed up for the first time in two decades with the names of inspirational women embroidered on her gown). Just in time for the annual event, too, was the publication of a new semi-authorized biography of Met Gala host, Vogue editor, and Condé Nast executive Anna Wintour.

- Equal pay day. Today is Asian-American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Equal Pay Day, marking the wage gap AAPI women face compared with non-Hispanic white men. AAPI women earned 75 cents to white men's dollar in 2020, the year's data used to put this year's date on the calendar. But there's a wide range of experiences within the AAPI community, with Burmese women earning only 50 cents on the dollar and Indian women out-earning white men. National Women's Law Center

- Holiday schedule. First Lady Jill Biden will travel to Romania and Slovakia, where she's scheduled to meet with Ukrainian mothers and children who fled their home country. The visit, which takes place on Mother's Day this Sunday, is Biden's second solo trip. Reuters

- Going nationwide. Salesforce is the latest tech company to extend the protections of California's "Silenced No More Act," which prevents the enforcement of nondisclosure agreements in cases of harassment and discrimination, to its U.S. employees. Pinterest whistleblower Ifeoma Ozoma has led a coalition of activists pushing companies to implement these protections throughout their workforces. Protocol

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Kate Childs Graham, former director of speechwriting for Vice President Kamala Harris, rejoined West Wing Writers as a senior advisor. Khoros chief marketing officer Katherine Post Calvert has been named PagerDuty’s chief marketing officer. Molly Mason-Boule joined Riot Games as global head of development studios. KPMG appointed Sandy Torchia to vice chair of talent and culture.  Lisa Lewis has joined shoe brand PF Flyers as chief marketing officer. Felix Global named Stephanie Benesh managing director and practice leader of talent development and Kathleen Murphy managing director of executive search. Employer caregiving solutions provider Family First added Adrienne Schneider to its board of directors and Shawna Oliver-Kapp to its advisory board. 


- Swing vote. Australia’s Liberal Party may lose its nine-year control of the Parliament House in the country's May 21 election, after a period of reckoning on sexism and sexual misconduct within government. Recent polling shows that the gap in women's support for Australia's two largest parties has widened since early 2021, with women now favoring the Labor Party by 16 points. Bloomberg

- Skating by. The International Skating Union, a figure skating governing body, is considering gradually raising the minimum age for competition in the sport from 15 to 17. The move is in part a response to the doping controversy that surrounded 15-year-old Russian skater Kamila Valieva at the Beijing Olympics. New York Times

- Progressive politics. Employees at Guttmacher Institute, the largest non-university affiliated reproductive health researcher in the nation, have declared their intent to unionize. The organization, which conducts research on abortion, contraception, and sexually transmitted diseases, has experienced high turnover and low morale over the last year amid a surge in anti-abortion legislation. Employees are asking for voluntary recognition of their union by Thursday. The 19th*

- Gift guide. The best gift this Mother's Day? An NFT, apparently. Special occasion retailer 1-800-Flowers is giving away NFTs for the holiday, commissioned by two artists and presented in two collections. The crypto art will have “no immediate or intrinsic monetary value” upon release, the retailer states, but may accrue value as they are sold and traded. AdWeek


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Saturday Night Live alum Vanessa Bayer on her experience with childhood cancer—the inspiration behind her new Showtime series I Love That For You. 

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