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Following Benedict Cumberbatch’s second time hosting Saturday Night Live on May 7, the Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness star threw his support behind a woman’s right to choose. As Benedict, 45, joined the SNL cast and musical guests Arcade Fire to bid goodnight, Cumberbatch wore a white t-shirt with “1973” in blue and red lettering. The number signifies the year the Supreme Court issued the Roe v. Wade decision (Jan. 22, 1973), establishing a woman’s right to get an abortion. Other SNL cast members – Mikey Day, Chloe Fineman, Chris Redd, Cecily Strong, Alex Moffat, and Kyle Mooney – wore identical shirts to Benedict’s.
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The leaked Supreme Court draft decision, written by Justice Samuel Alito, will overturn Roe v. Wade’s decision that women have a federal constitutional right to an abortion. Benedict and the SNL cast mocked Justice Alito for citing a 13th-century treatise about the quickening of the foetus. Cumberbatch, playing a medieval lawmaker, claimed, “We should have a law that could stand the test of time, so that hundreds and hundreds of years from now, they will look back and say, ‘No need to update this one at all. They nailed it back in 1235.’”
In addition to Alito citing centuries-old documentation as to why “an abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and traditions,” the Supreme Court justice also referenced Sir Matthew Hale, a barrister, judge, and jurist from the 17th century, nine times in his leaked opinion. Hale, according to Boing Boing, mar arguments that “witches must be real because there were laws against them and that it was impossible for a husband to rape his wife.” Alito cited the world of Hale’s “great common-law authority” in overturning women’s bodily autonomy.
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“The consequences of this decision would be a blow not just to women, but to all of us who believe that in a free society, there are limits to how much the government can encroach on our personal lives,” former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama said in a statement following the leaked draft decision. “Under the Court’s logic, state legislatures could dictate that women carry every pregnancy to term, no matter how early it is and no matter what circumstances led to it — even rape or incest.”
SNL took a stance on abortion during the Nov. 6 episode, when Cecily shared the story of her own abortion. “I really don’t [want to talk about this],” Cecily’s character, a clown named Goober, said during her “Weekend Update” segment. “But people keep bringing it up, so I gotta talk about freaking abortion… I wish I didn’t have to do this, because the abortion I had at 23 is my personal clown business.”
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