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‘SNL’ Cold Open Imagines 13th-Century Abortion Discussion, Takes Aim at Alito’s Draft Opinion (Video)

Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito cited writing from the 13th century in the leaked draft opinion that could overturn Roe v. Wade

Just days after the leak of Supreme Court draft opinion potentially overturning Roe v. Wade, “Saturday Night Live” decided to tackle the issue right up front during the cold open.

Instead of taking a contemporary approach to the material, the cold open flashed back to 13th-century England. Justice Samuel Alito’s leaked draft opinion relied in part on treatises from English jurist Henry de Bracton written in the 13th century to lay out the case for overturning Roe v. Wade, so “SNL” traveled back to the time period to single out the ridiculousness of using that era to relate to women’s rights in 2022.

The cold open found Benedict Cumberbatch (a host in a somewhat rare cold open appearance) and “SNL” cast members James Austin Johnson and Andrew Dismukes playing men in the 13th century discussing banning abortion. “Don’t you think we should make a law against it?” Cumberbatch’s character asks the two men, with one of them replying, “You mean like the law we have against pointy shoes?”

The conversation continued to point to the progress society has made since the 13th century, with references to terrible haircuts and a lack of toilets and doors. Cumberbatch’s character then asks the other two men to keep the discussion quiet, saying, “The worst thing that could happen is if someone leaks this conversation to the town crier.”

It’s at this point that a woman, played by Cecily Strong, walks in, saying, “I was outside watching the sheriff throw left-handed children into the river.” She is seen trying, unsuccessfully, to persuade the men not to ban abortion, asking why they’re so obsessed with this particular issue.

“We still have maternity leave,” Cumberbatch’s character replies, adding, “When you’re done with 20 years of continuous maternity, you can leave.”

The sketch ended with a character played by Kate McKinnon entering the room, saying she’s had a vision of the future where things get better. “And then about 50 years after the progress they’ll be like, ‘Maybe we should undo the progress,’” she said.

Given her prophetic visions, Cumberbatch’s character immediately identifies her as a witch and suggests burning her alive.

Watch a clip from the sketch in the video above.

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