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Why overturning Roe v. Wade could impact other privacy rights

"It’s hard to not think that Roe is just the first in a line of dominoes," said Emily Berman, an associate professor of law at the University of Houston.

HOUSTON — US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has ordered an investigation into who leaked the confidential document that suggests the High Court is preparing to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The publication Politico obtained the draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito. Justice Roberts has since confirmed the draft is genuine but adds it does not represent the High Court’s final decision, expected to come in June or July.

If Roe v. Wade is overturned it would end federal protection for abortion rights and allow states to decide their own abortion laws. Texas already has a so-called “Trigger-Law” on the books that would automatically ban abortions should it be overturned.

RELATED: What is the Texas 'trigger law?'

Overturning Roe v. Wade could reach far beyond abortions and impact other rights to privacy, including same-sex marriage, contraception, and medical care. 

On Tuesday night, during a protest at Houston’s City Hall in support of abortion rights, some supporters voiced their concern over additional privacy rights.

 “LGBTQ rights, even interracial marriage,” said abortion rights supporter Sandy.  “All of these things could be at stake.”

Emily Berman, an associate professor of law at the University of Houston, said it’s possible that other rights could be impacted if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

“What do you teach your children. What kind of schools do you send your child to. Are you permitted to decline life-saving medical treatments. Same-sex marriage. Not being able to criminalize same-sex sexual activity,” said Berman.

RELATED: Constitutional law experts answer your questions about SCOTUS draft opinion leak

The right to abortion was originally protected as part of broader rights to privacy from previous decisions, like Griswold v. Connecticut, which covers the right to birth control, as Berman explained.

The leaked Supreme Court opinion argues the right to abortion is not protected by the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause, which guarantees some rights not mentioned in the Constitution. Several of the other Supreme Court decisions that Berman mentioned rely on similar arguments.

In the opinion, Justice Alito disclaims any intent to go beyond the right to abortion.

“To ensure that our decision is not misunderstood or mischaracterized, we emphasize that our decision concerns the constitutional right to abortion and no other right,” Alito wrote. “Nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion.” 

Although, Berman isn't so sure about that.

“If you’re rejecting the reasoning in Roe v. Wade, then it’s hard to understand how you would defend these other rights to privacy," she said. "It’s hard to not think that Roe is just the first in a line of dominoes."

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