The Supreme Court has spoken: Roe is gone. But the Supreme Court does not have the final say on abortion. The American people will have the final say through their representatives in Congress and the White House.
With its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, an extremist Supreme Court has overturned nearly 50 years of precedent, removed the constitutional right to abortion and ruled that the government — not the person who is pregnant — will make the crucial decision about whether or not continuing a pregnancy. At least nine states have already banned abortion; more than a dozen more could soon follow by severely restricting or outright banning abortion, endangering the lives, health and futures of girls and women.
If we sound angry and alarmed, it’s because we are. This decision is devastating – and we’ve seen what happens next. We both lived in America where abortion was illegal. A country where infections and other complications destroyed lives. A country where unplanned pregnancies derailed careers and livelihoods. A country where some women committed suicide instead of continuing pregnancies they couldn’t bear.
But we must keep hoping. Each of us can and must act – both elected officials and ordinary Americans. We can start by helping those who need access to an abortion. Support Planned Parenthood and other organizations expanding their services in states where abortion is possible. Contribute to the abortion fund. Encouraging state legislators to protect reproductive rights in states like New Mexico and Minnesota, which border places where abortion services are most likely to be severely restricted and even criminalized. Encourage employers in abortion-prohibiting states to give their employees sufficient time and money for travel to find the abortion care they need. Do everything you can – and demand the same approach from all our elected leaders.
Earlier this month, we, along with Senator Patty Murray and half of the Senate Democratic Caucus, sent a letter to President Biden outlining executive steps he could take to defend reproductive freedom. These actions include increasing access to abortion medications, providing federal resources to individuals seeking abortion care in other states, and using federal property and resources to protect people seeking abortion services locally. We need action, and we need it now.
Will the Democrats Face an Interim Destruction?
On Friday, with the publication of the Dobbs decision, we have entered a dangerous time that threatens millions of women in this country. We urge the President to declare a public health emergency to protect access to abortion for all Americans, unlocking critical resources and authority that states and the federal government can use to meet the strong demand for reproductive health services. The danger is real and Democrats must face it with the urgency it deserves.
We are in this dark moment as right-wing politicians and their allies have spent decades trying to undo a right that many Americans consider sacred. Pass state laws to limit access to abortion care. Giving personality rights to fertilized eggs. Threatening to criminalize in vitro fertilization. Offering premiums for reporting physicians who provide abortion services. Abusing the filibuster and turning Congress into a broken institution. Advancing judicial nominees who claimed to be committed to protecting “legislation laid down” while winking at their Republican sponsors in the Senate. Steal two seats in the Supreme Court.
For nearly 50 years, right-wing extremists rejected the beliefs of an overwhelming majority of Americans. They redoubled and redoubled their efforts to create a future where women and their doctors could face jail time for seeking or providing basic health care. When these extremists couldn’t impose their radical views through the legislative process, they piled up the courts. And now that the Supreme Court has opened the door to overthrow Roe, Republicans will continue their assault on our civil rights and freedoms.
Former Vice President Mike Pence called for a national ban on abortion in all 50 states; Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, bluntly stated that it is a possibility. And the logic laid out by the majority in Dobbs seems to undermine other precedents, raising the alarming possibility that we could soon see an attack on privacy and marital equality.
To repair the damage Republicans have done to our system in their efforts to control women’s lives, we need a broad reform of democracy: change the makeup of the courts, reform the Senate rules like the filibuster, and even fix the outdated electoral college that made presidential elections possible. candidates who lost the popular vote to run and nominated five of the judges who agreed to end the right to abortion.
We can’t undo the damage it took Republicans five decades to repair in five months, but we can immediately start restoring our democracy. The public is overwhelmingly on our side. A large majority of Americans are against the decision the Supreme Court has just made. Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. And more Americans describe themselves as pro-choice today than at any other point in the past 25 years.
Let’s be clear: Roe may be gone, but the protection it once guaranteed is on the ballot. States like Kansas and Kentucky have initiatives to abolish state constitutional protections for abortion, while Michigan and Vermont are working on statewide voting to create constitutional protections for reproductive freedom. But make no mistake, this radical decision affects all Americans, not just those in states where the right to a safe, legal abortion will soon expire.
Now is the time to demand that every candidate for every single office take a strong stance on reproductive rights† Ask any Senate candidate to commit to reforming the filibuster rules so the chamber can pass federal legislation protecting the right to reproductive freedom. If voters help us maintain our control of the House and expand our Senate majority by at least two votes in November, we could make Roe the law nationwide as early as January.
Simply put, we need to restore our democracy so that a radical minority can no longer overpower the will of the people. This will be a long, hard battle and the road to victory is not yet certain. But it is a righteous battle that we must win – however long it takes. The two of us lived in an America without Roe, and we’re not going back. Not now. Never.