On the eve of abortion rights protests in Washington and across the country, House Democrats led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi gathered on the steps of the US Capitol facing the Supreme Court on Friday, calling on the justices to defend access to abortion.
It comes following an extraordinary leak of a Supreme Court draught judgement last week that would overturn Roe v. Wade, as well as Senate Democrats’ failure to codify abortion rights into federal law on Wednesday.
Pelosi stated, “Americans are marching and making their opinions heard.” “The public’s opinion is crucial. We will never give up on patients and their medical care.”
Pelosi claimed that Republicans across the country have already mobilised a “dangerous” and “extreme” agenda to criminalise all forms of reproductive healthcare, referring to the conservative push for a nationwide abortion ban, despite Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s statement that if Republicans take control of Congress, he would not try to break a Democratic filibuster to prevent such a ban.
Because Roe is based on a fundamental right to privacy, she cautioned that if the case is overturned, other related rights such as same-sex marriage and contraception would be taken away from Americans.
Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., a sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act, praised her colleagues for adopting her bill, which would establish a national right to abortion, in September, describing it as the “most favourable” reproductive rights law in Congress’ history.
Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a Democrat, voted with anti-abortion Republicans to oppose the Senate plan, claiming it went “too far.”
“Despite Senator Manchin’s refusal to join, the other 49 Senate Democrats did. I’d like to discuss this with so-called pro-choice Republicans who voted against whip-up because they believe it goes too far. That is not the case. It accomplishes precisely what we need it to: it upholds Roe v Wade.”
Republican politicians, according to Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., co-chair of the House Pro-Choice Caucus, are “out of step” with Americans’ views because the majority of them support abortion access and personal liberty to make their own reproductive health care decisions.
“For many of us, this is personal,” Lee said. “It’s personal for me because I’ve experienced directly what it’s like to be denied access to legal abortion. I’ve personally experienced the dread, stigma, trauma, and despair of not receiving the help you require. I know what it’s like to have your medical decisions criminalised, to be forced to travel for the care you require, and to have your future hinge on political decisions rather than medical judgments.”
Reps. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) urged Americans to get ready for the November midterm elections.
“I am honoured to stand behind my Democratic colleagues and our speaker,” Maloney added. “With our like-minded men and women, we are united in our desire to safeguard abortion rights in our country. And now is the moment to propel America ahead once more.”