This week, Hillary Clinton joined those speaking out against a leaked draft majority opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court that — if made final — would eliminate the legally established nationwide right to an abortion. In place of that right, access to abortion would be left up to state leaders to handle — and it’s clear that Republican officials around the country would jump at the chance to impose abortion restrictions, no matter the consequences for the health of those affected.
I am asking every member of the Senate right now, what other judicial outrage must we endure from this illegitimate majority before we act?
— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) May 3, 2022
The draft majority opinion — which Chief Justice John Roberts has confirmed is authentic — had the apparent support of five Justices, including its author, George W. Bush appointee Samuel Alito, and all three of Trump’s appointees along with Clarence Thomas. There is still an opportunity for the alignment of the Justices on this issue to shift, but for now, it seems clear that a majority on the court is at least tentatively prepared to undo national legal protections for abortion. These protections hinged on judicial decision-making about the scope of already established law rather than specific legal provisions. Clinton remarked as follows about the leaked opinion:
‘Not surprising. But still outrageous. This decision is a direct assault on the dignity, rights, & lives of women, not to mention decades of settled law. It will kill and subjugate women even as a vast majority of Americans think abortion should be legal. What an utter disgrace.’
Not surprising. But still outrageous.
This decision is a direct assault on the dignity, rights, & lives of women, not to mention decades of settled law. It will kill and subjugate women even as a vast majority of Americans think abortion should be legal. What an utter disgrace. https://t.co/TNo1IX3Tl4
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) May 3, 2022
There have been pushes to make abortion rights a specifically established component of federal law, but hurdles include the filibuster rules in the Senate, which require that at least 60 Senators in the 100-member chamber support moving forward with many measures before the legislative process can continue. Two Democrats in the Senate have previously established their firm opposition to altering the filibuster rules — when the chamber considered limited alterations to the provisions to allow for the enactment of new federal protections for voting rights, Arizona Democrat Kyrsten Sinema and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin voted with all Republicans in support of leaving the filibuster rules alone.
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.):
"There is no other recourse. We must abolish the filibuster in order to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, and we must expand the Supreme Court in order to reclaim the stolen seats, and restore balance and the faith of the American people."
— Jennifer Bendery (@jbendery) May 3, 2022
Manchin has already established that, in the context of abortion rights, he’s opposed to making changes to the filibuster rules. At the state level, Democratic leaders in California have already announced a proposed amendment to the state Constitution that would protect access to abortions in California. On the opposing side, Texas already has a law in effect that would make almost all abortions at any point illegal if the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade is, in fact, overturned.
Big: Senator Joe Manchin just indicated he would not blow up the filibuster to codify Roe, saying he believes the filibuster is a check on power that preserves abortion rights. Without Manchin, the chance of passing Roe into law is pretty much zero.
— Paul McLeod (@pdmcleod) May 3, 2022
That Texas law is distinct from the Texas restrictions already in effect that ban almost all abortions after some six weeks of pregnancy, at which point many people who are pregnant don’t even know it. The case whose deliberations provided for the draft majority opinion written by Alito deals with a Mississippi law banning most abortions after 15 weeks. Florida — the country’s third most-populous state, after Texas, which is second, and California, which leads the list — recently imposed a similar measure. The Florida law banning most abortions after 15 weeks includes no exceptions for cases involving rape, incest, or human trafficking, although it does allow for abortions to save the life of or prevent serious injury to the individual who is pregnant.
The Senate should immediately abolish the filibuster and pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, codifying Roe v. Wade as law and protecting the right to an abortion from the stolen Supreme Court majority.
— Ed Markey (@EdMarkey) May 3, 2022