In a new letter to her Democratic colleagues in the House, Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called for the elimination of the filibuster in the Senate and the re-establishment through legislative means of the nationally recognized right to an abortion.
As Pelosi put it on Monday:
‘While this extremist Supreme Court works to punish and control the American people, Democrats must continue our fight to expand freedom in America. Doing so is foundational to our oath of office and our fidelity to the Constitution. It is clear from how Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell stacked the Supreme Court that elections have ramifications. It is essential that we protect and expand our pro-choice Majorities in the House and Senate in November so that we can eliminate the filibuster so that we can restore women’s fundamental rights – and freedom for every American.’
The U.S. Supreme Court recently overturned Roe v. Wade, on which federal recognition of abortion rights previously relied. There’s no portion of federal law that specifically establishes the right to an abortion; it was the court’s interpretation of existing law, as laid out in Roe, that established such a thing. Now that Roe is overturned, state officials are generally free to regulate abortion according to their personal and political ambitions, establishing the critical nature of federal action.
Eliminating the filibuster in the Senate would require growing the Democratic majority in the chamber. Adding two — or more! — Dems should do it, since it’s just two Democrats, Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, who broke with the rest of their party’s members in the chamber and opposed altering the filibuster to allow for the passage of voting rights legislation, and neither have indicated any change to their positions on their filibuster in the time since.
In her new letter to colleagues, Pelosi also outlined a series of steps Democratic leaders are “exploring” to protect what’s left of access to reproductive healthcare in the absence of national recognition of the right to an abortion. These moves include legislation to protect data housed in apps dealing with reproductive health, which some are concerned could be used by extremist prosecutors in pursuing someone for having an abortion. Pelosi also discussed legislation that “makes clear” Americans maintain the right to freely travel between states, since there have also been serious concerns that anti-abortion officials in states with sharp restrictions on the procedure could take up cases involving someone going out-of-state to get an abortion.
Governors in states where abortion remains legal have already begun addressing this possibility. In New Mexico, Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham recently signed a new executive order blocking all state personnel from assisting with any out-of-state proceedings related to obtaining reproductive healthcare services — including abortions — in New Mexico. Covered proceedings include those in which initiators are seeking civil, criminal, or professional consequences for getting or providing an abortion. The governor’s order — like a recent one from Massachusetts Republican Governor Charlie Baker — also outlines that the state government won’t be cooperating with any out-of-state extradition request related to obtaining reproductive healthcare.