This morning, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi held a press conference with several members of Pro-Choice House Caucus concerning the threats Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court poses for reproductive rights. Feminist Majority joined several reproductive rights organizations to unite with members against Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
Members of Congress spoke about the need to reject Kavanaugh in order to protect Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion across the country. If Kavanaugh is confirmed and Roe is overturned, abortion could be criminalized in half the states.
The outcome of criminalized abortion will vary by state. Earlier this year, Republican lawmakers in Ohio introduced HB 565, a bill that aimed to ban abortion in all cases, without exceptions for rape, incest or danger to a woman’s life. The bill would create an “unborn human” category under their homicide laws. This means women seeking abortions could be charged with homicide and face lifetime prison sentences or even the death penalty. If passed, doctors providing abortion care would also be charged with murder. The bill is currently co-sponsored by 16 Republicans in the Ohio legislature. Fourteen of the sponsors are men.
Today if the law were to pass, it would likely not withstand Constitutional scrutiny due to precedent set during Roe v. Wade. However, with Kavanaugh on the Court, a challenge to bills like this could give the Court an opportunity to overturn Roe once and for all.
Kavanaugh was selected from a list of 25 jurists who were handpicked by the Federalist Society, an organization that mentors young conservative lawyers and grooms the next generation of judicial leaders to be sympathetic to their values, including ending legal abortion.
Kavanaugh’s nomination means that he passed President Trump’s litmus test of being a Justice who would overturn Roe v. Wade, criminalizing abortion in over half the country. In the recent case of Garza v. Hargan, Kavanaugh wanted to make it impossible for a 17-year-old pregnant migrant to access an abortion. Even though she had already jumped through all the state-required hoops, Kavanaugh would have forced her to wait weeks longer for a resolution, which would have pushed her into the second trimester.
A massive progressive movement has launched to demand that Senators don’t vote on any Supreme Court nominee until after the November elections, a standard that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell enforced in 2016 as he held up President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland following the death of Justice Scalia.
Media Resources: NPR 3/20/18; Feminist Newswire 7/11/18; Cincinnati 3/19/18