Obama Asks Red & Blue America To Protect Abortion From GOP

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Americans are still reeling from the recent leak of a draft majority opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court that would overturn Roe v. Wade, threatening access to abortions nationwide. On Saturday, as thousands prepared to march in support of abortion rights, former President Barack Obama spoke out and joined those calling for action. He pointed to, among other opportunities for action, the upcoming midterm elections.

“Across the country, Americans are standing up for abortion rights—and I’m proud of everyone making their voices heard. Join a march near you,” Obama wrote, including a link to information about protests. He added: “If you can’t join a march in person today, you can still get involved. Donate to a local abortion fund. Volunteer with activists who’ve been organizing on this issue for years. And vote on or before November 8 and in every election. Take action: usow.org/repro/#action.” At this point, there’s still technically the opportunity for Justices to change their minds before the court delivers its final conclusions in the case that provided the backdrop for the leaked draft majority opinion — but the situation is serious. Eliminating the Roe precedent would at least partly task state officials — like the anti-abortion zealots currently in power — with handling access to abortion.

There are even already laws in place in certain areas that would automatically ban most abortions if the Supreme Court goes through with overturning its previous ruling in Roe v. Wade, which, of course, originally established the legally recognized nationwide right to an abortion. And Republicans aren’t even including exceptions in some of these provisions for situations involving rape or incest, although generally permitting abortion in such scenarios is favored by a clear and overwhelming majority of Americans. A 15-week abortion ban was recently enacted in Florida with no exceptions for anything other than preventing serious injury to or the death of pregnant people. Meanwhile, there have also been recent protests outside Supreme Court Justices’ residences, although these perceptibly peaceful demonstrations have been controversial among Republicans.

A D.C. march set for this weekend alone was expected to see as many as 17,000 people — including members of Congress — in attendance. It would be possible for Congress to pass specific protections for abortion that make the Supreme Court’s decision-making seemingly irrelevant — at least pending any possible challenges to the hypothetical legislation — but there aren’t enough votes in the Senate in support of such a move. There’s now just one Democrat — West Virginia’s Joe Manchin — in opposition to legislation that Democratic leaders are currently promoting to shore up abortion protections. With the Senate split 50-50 and Democrats in control only because of the vice president’s tie-breaking role, that’s enough to keep the legislation’s supporters from reaching a majority. Even if they did hit that level of support, there’s also the chamber’s debilitating filibuster rules with which to deal.