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Georgia leaders' mixed reactions to leaked Supreme Court opinion on Roe v. Wade

Georgia Republicans and Democrats have strikingly different reactions to the opinion leak.

ATLANTA — Georgia leaders have mixed responses Tuesday following Politico's Monday night release of a draft opinion, which suggests the Supreme Court could be poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling. Overturning Roe would lead to abortion bans in nearly half the states.

Though Chief Justice John Roberts said the reports do not represent a decision, he confirmed the authenticity of the leaked draft opinion Tuesday. 

A spokesperson issued a statement on Governor Brian Kemp's behalf, saying his office is troubled by the unexpected reveal yet still looking forward to the court's final ruling. Kemp's office referenced Georgia's proposed "heartbeat" abortion law that was tabled last year. 

"Georgia is a state that values life at all stages. Governor Kemp led the fight to pass the strongest pro-life bill in the country and championed the law throughout a lengthy legal process. We look forward to the Court issuing its final ruling, however, this unprecedented breach of U.S Supreme Court protocol is deeply concerning," the statement reads.

He also issued a Tweet saying he "fully supports" an investigation into the breach of protocol. 

A Democrat looking to challenge Republican Kemp for the governor's seat, Stacey Abrams had a starkly different reaction. In a Tweet, Abrams called the opinion leak appalling and stressed her stance on reproductive rights. 

"As a woman, I am enraged by the continued assault on our right to control our bodies + our futures. As an American, I am appalled by the SCOTUS breach & its implications. As the next Governor of Georgia, I will defend the right to an abortion and fight for reproductive justice," Abrams wrote in a Tweet

Former Georgia Senator and Republican David Perdue, also looking to fill Kemp's seat, said the Supreme Court ruling would be a "historic milestone" and asserted, if he were governor come November, he would call in a special legislative session to implement a state abortion ban. 

"Bonnie & I believe every child is a gift from God. Any ruling from the Supreme Court that would save innocent lives would be an historic milestone. If I were Governor when this ruling was issued, I would call the legislature back into a special session to ban abortion in GA," Perdue said.

Senator Raphael Warnock, a pro-choice reverend, hinted in a Tweet that he'd vote to maintain Roe v. Wade in the event it's overturned and a decision to codify the ruling rested in the hands of the Senate and House. 

"As a pro-choice pastor, I’ve always believed that a patient's room is way too small for a woman, her doctor, and the United States government. I'll always fight to protect a woman's right to choose. And that will never change," Warnock tweeted. 

Warnock also mentioned Tuesday he wants to bring the Women's Health Protection Act back up for a vote. It aims to preserve access to abortions.

"This is a decision that literally changes women's live forever," he said. "I don't understand how you could be more outraged about what you see as a violation of the Court's privacy around this process than you are about women's privacy as they make the most important and tender decision about their lives."

In the upcoming November election, the Georgia senator's seat is on the table, with pro-life former NFL star Herschel Walker vying for his spot.

Senator Jon Ossoff denounced the leaked opinion, saying in a statement "If the Court strikes down Roe v. Wade, the lives, health, privacy, and liberty of women nationwide will be relentlessly attacked by extreme laws that threaten women and their health care providers with imprisonment when a woman makes the deeply personal medical choice to terminate a pregnancy — even early in the first trimester."

"An overwhelming majority of Americans believe women should be free to make their own medical decisions about reproductive health in private consultation with their doctors and support the standards established in Roe v. Wade," Ossoff continued. "Whatever course the Court chooses, I will sustain and strengthen my efforts in Congress to codify in Federal law the standards established by the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which has played a vital role protecting women's access to reproductive health care for fifty years."

In light of the opinion release, Atlanta's Rep. Nikema Williams, who represents John Lewis' old district, called on the Senate in a statement to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would protect the right to access abortion care throughout the United States. She said the filibuster must end to pass the "lifesaving legislation."

"We now have a chilling picture of a post-Roe v. Wade country. Upending over 50 years of legal precedent is a dangerous assault on bodily autonomy. While working for Planned Parenthood for a decade, I heard from countless patients— primarily women of color — who made tremendous sacrifices to get the abortion care they needed. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, those sacrifices will put reproductive healthcare out of reach for millions of people, or force them into dangerous, unregulated procedures," Williams said. "The House of Representatives did its job by passing the Women’s Health Protection Act. Now the Senate must pass this lifesaving legislation and end the filibuster to protect the rights of all Americans."

President Biden also stated on Tuesday, saying, "If the Court does overturn Roe, it will fall on our nation’s elected officials at all levels of government to protect a woman’s right to choose."

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