Many cautioned that people should wait until an official opinion is released

Georgians active on both sides of the abortion debate reacted strongly early Tuesday to a leaked draft Supreme Court opinion that would effectively overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade.

Anti-abortion, evangelical and conservative activists cheered the 98-page document, which was circulated to other members of the court by Justice Samuel Alito in February and first reported by Politico late Monday. It stated that the reasoning behind the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe decision, which guaranteed federal constitutional protections for abortions, was “exceptionally weak” and that it’s “time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

Martha Zoller, executive director of the anti-abortion group Georgia Life Alliance, said the potential for such a ruling from the Supreme Court would be “historic.”

“This draft opinion, if accurate, would simply — and rightly — empower states to protect life without the stranglehold of the Roe decision restricting them,” Zoller said, comparing the country’s abortion laws to those in North Korea and China. “This decision would finally rectify that grave error.”

Bishop Garland Hunt Sr., senior pastor of the Father’s House in Peachtree Corners, credited the potential end of Roe to “extreme praying that has taken place since 1973.”

“The church, particularly the conservative church, has been crying out to God for years for God to impact our nation and change the course of our nation as it to legal abortion,” said Hunt, a lawyer who cautioned that people should wait until an official opinion is released before they get too angry or rejoice.

Abortion advocates, meanwhile, decried the draft ruling and said that they were bracing for the procedure to be made illegal in many Southern states. Some indicated they weren’t surprised, given the tenor of oral arguments late last year and the fact that the Supreme Court took up the underlying case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, in the first place.

“Advocates and providers from across the country have been preparing for this, both in terms of how we sustain our practices financially and making sure that we’re able to provide care to our patients to the extent provided by law,” said Megan Gordon-Kane, public affairs coordinator for the Feminist Women’s Health Center in Northeast Atlanta. She said that if Roe is overturned, “the real work would be on Georgia’s abortion funds,” which help pay for women to travel to receive abortions.

Many insisted that the news wouldn’t blunt their resolve.

“It does not change our commitment to this fight for body autonomy whatsoever,” said Lauren Frazier, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Southeast, which operates four health centers in Georgia, including three in metro Atlanta.

Kwajelyn Jackson, executive director of the Feminist Women’s Health Center said she’s hopeful that the draft ruling will galvanize people to get more politically involved and elect lawmakers who are in favor of abortion access.

“We have to make sure that people are engaged locally because that’s where some of the most harsh decisions are being made and Georgia has an opportunity to make sure that abortion is solidified for future generations,” Jackson said.

Staff writer Maya T. Prabhu contributed to this story.