Barack and Michelle Obama
Barack and Michelle ObamaReuters

Former US President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama on Tuesday issued a strong statement criticizing the draft Supreme Court opinion knocking down the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion.

“Today, millions of Americans woke up fearing that their essential freedoms under the Constitution were at risk,” the couple said in the joint statement.

“If the Supreme Court ultimately decides to overturn the landmark case of Roe v. Wade, then it will not only reverse nearly 50 years of precedent — it will relegate the most intensely personal decision someone can make to the whims of politicians and ideologues,” they added.

The Obamas said the Roe decision allowed state legislations to impose restrictions on abortion but argued the draft reportedly authored by Justice Samuel Alito didn’t look to balance different rights but to wipe out the right to have an abortion.

“As the court has previously determined, our freedoms are not unlimited — society has a compelling interest in other circumstances, for example, in protecting children from abuse or people from self-harm — and the framework constructed by Roe and subsequent Court decisions allowed legislatures to impose greater restrictions on abortion later in pregnancy. But this draft decision doesn’t seek to balance these interests,” the statement said.

They called on those who support abortion rights to protest and volunteer on campaigns.

“We’re asking you to join with the activists who’ve been sounding the alarm on this issue for years — and act. Stand with them at a local protest. Volunteer with them on a campaign,” the couple’s statement said.

“Join with them in urging Congress to codify Roe into law. And vote alongside them on or before November 8 and in every other election. Because in the end, if we want judges who will protect all, and not just some, of our rights, then we’ve got to elect officials committed to doing the same,” the statement concluded.

The statement came a day after the Politico website published a leaked draft, circulated among Supreme Court justices, which suggests that earlier this year a majority of them had thrown support behind overturning the 1973 case Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion nationwide.

US Supreme Court President Justice John Roberts on Tuesday confirmed the authenticity of the document that was leaked to Politico.

Roberts added that he has ordered an investigation into the leak, and noted that the draft opinion "does not represent" the Court's final position.