Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday accused the US Supreme Court’s conservative majority of delivering a “slap in the face” to women following the leak of a draft decision which would overturn Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 case which established a constitutional right to abortion.
Lawmakers squared off on the Sunday political shows this week as the nation gears up for the potential seismic shift.
Speaking on CBS’s face the nation, the House Democratic leader delivered withering criticism from the Court.
“This is about something so serious and so personal and so disrespectful of women,” said Speaker Pelosi. “Here we are on Mother’s Day, a week where the Court has slapped women in the face in terms of disrespect for their judgments about the size and timing of their families.”
Her comments reflected growing anger among Democrats after publication of the draft decision by Politician on Tuesday.
The draft, written by Justice Samuel Alito, suggested that five justices would support overturning gnaws and Planned Parenthood v Casey, two landmark abortion rights cases. If tossed out, it would ignite a massive nationwide clash to codify abortion rights, or the lack thereof, at the state level.
Protests have erupted across American cities over the draft decision which threatens to upend the 2022 Midterms, and refocus many races, particularly in suburban districts, around the issue.
In Chicago, Illinois’s Democratic Governor JB Pritzker attended a pro-choice protest that erupted after the Roe draft news.
“I’m proud Illinois is an island for reproductive freedom in the Midwest… [o]ur shores remain open for any person left marooned by these extremist politicians,” he said at the event.
Some GOP figures have avoided talking about their own positions on abortion, instead focusing their attention on attacking Democrats.
On NBC’s Meet The Press on Sunday, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves refused to say whether he would support a ban on contraception, repeating only, “that’s always the case; there’s so many things we can talk about”.
“I don’t think that’s going to happen in Mississippi,” the governor added.
On Sunday Morning FuturesTexas Senator Ted Cruz falsely claimed that Democrats want to legalize abortion up until the point of birth but did not say if a GOP Senate would push for a federal abortion ban in 2024 if a Republican took the White House.
Instead, he attacked Democrats for “openly celebrating[ing]” abortion as a “wonderful thing”. Democrats have taken a wide range of views on the subject; Joe Biden famously avoids using the word in White House statements, while progressives and some House Democrats have openly talked about their own experiences with abortion and argued that it is a necessarily and justly protected medical procedure.
Republicans hope to retake both the House and the Senate in the Midterms but privately view the issue of abortion as politically toxic.
In November, when pro-choice and pro-life demonstrators rallied outside the Supreme Court, several high-profile Democrats attended including freshman Rep Cori Bush, who spoke passionately about her own abortion experience to a sympathetic crown of supporters while anti-abortion demonstrators raged at her via megaphone.
Republicans uniformly avoided that demonstration outside of the court last year, and party leadership has been hesitant to stand firmly with the movement to federally ban abortion in the days since the Roe draft news.
A CBSNews poll on Sunday revealed what other recent polls have also shown – only just over a third of the US believes Roe v. Wade should be overturned.
There are escalating calls for Democrats to act at the national level in the coming weeks and codify abortion rights in federal law, which would overrule any state-level abortion bans.
However such a prospect seems impossible without Republican support in the 50-50 split Senate, where centrist Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema do not support ending the filibuster, a necessity for passing any legislation without the votes of 60 senators.
Ms Pelosi attacked two of those Republicans for their refusal to support legislation which would codify abortion rights at the federal level; Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has vowed to take a vote on such legislation regardless to force senators to make their positions clear.
Following the Roe leak Senator Collins said that she would not support Democratic legislation that protects abortion rights at the federal level due to her desire to protect Catholic hospitals, which refuse to perform abortion services.
Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins are among the centrist Republicans who supported confirmations of conservative justices by former President Donald Trump.
At the time, both Collins and Murkowski released statements during the confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch which said they did not believe gnaws would be at risk with the Court’s rightward tilt.
They, like Senator Manchin, have faced questions this week as to why they made that calculation.
“I don’t know why they say they’re for that and can’t be for this legislation,” Ms Pelosi told CBS, on Senators Collins and Murkowski.
“Should we all have a discussion and find our common ground? Always, always. But you’re either for the enshrinement of Roe v. Wade, or you’re not. It’s the law of the land.”
While Ms Pelosi condemned the Supreme Court, at the state level, Democrats appeared ready to resist the GOP push to roll back abortion rights.
Michigan’s Democrat Attorney General, Dana Nessel, said on Sunday she would not enforce a state law banning most abortions if the gnaws precedent is overturned.
Explaining that she “ran on a platform…that Roe V Wade would likely be overturned”, AG Nessel told Meet The Press: “I refuse to enforce this draconian law.”
On the Republican side, lawmakers are taking different approaches on the subject. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellon Thursday appeared to indicate that he was open to pursuing a ban on abortion at the federal level.
But he also reiterated his opposition to changing the filibuster which would remove the 60-vote threshold for passing most legislation.
“If the leaked opinion became the final opinion, legislative bodies—not only at the state level but at the federal level—certainly could legislate in that area,” the Kentucky Republican told USAToday.
“And if this were the final decision, that was the point that it should be resolved one way or another in the legislative process. So yeah, it’s possible.”
He added: “Do not carve out of the filibuster—period.”
If he remains true to his word, that should buy abortion activists some time at the federal level.
But as states like Mississippi and Texas move to sharply restrict abortion rights, some other Republican governors refuse to say whether they would do the same.
The possibility of roe’s being overturned has also led to speculation on which longstanding precedents the Supreme Court’s new conservative majority could overturn next.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.