Reviews | Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith: Roe is gone but the fight has only just begun

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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 overturned nearly 50 years of precedent, removing the constitutional right to abortion and ruling that the government – not the pregnant person – will make the critical decision whether to continue a pregnancy . At least nine states have already banned abortion; more than a dozen others may soon follow suit by severely restricting or outright banning abortion, putting the lives, health and future of girls and women at risk.

If we look angry and alarmed, it’s because we are. This decision is devastating – and we have seen what will happen next. We both lived in an America where abortion was illegal. A nation in which infections and other complications have destroyed lives. A nation in which unplanned pregnancies have derailed careers and livelihoods. A nation in which some women committed suicide rather than pursue pregnancies they could not bear.

But we must keep hope. Each of us can and should take action, whether elected officials or ordinary Americans. We can start by helping those who need access to abortion. Support Planned Parenthood and other organizations that expand their services in states where abortion is available. Contribute to abortion funds. Encourage state lawmakers to protect reproductive rights in states like New Mexico and Minnesota that border places where abortion services will most likely be severely restricted and even criminalized. Encourage employers in abortion-banning states to give employees enough time off and money to travel to find the abortion care they need. Do all you can – and demand the same at-will approach from all of our elected leaders.

Earlier this month, along with Senator Patty Murray and half of the Senate Democratic Caucus, we sent a letter to President Biden outlining executive actions he could take to defend reproductive freedom. These actions include improving access to abortion medication, providing federal resources to people 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.

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On Friday, with the release of the Dobbs decision, we entered a perilous time that threatens millions of women across this country. We urge the President to declare a public health emergency to protect abortion access for all Americans, unlocking critical resources and authority that states and the federal government can use to meet the surge in demand. reproductive health services. The danger is real, and Democrats must address it with the urgency it deserves.

We are in this dark moment because right-wing politicians and their allies have spent decades plotting to undo a law that many Americans considered sacrosanct. Pass state laws to restrict access to abortion care. Give personality rights to fertilized eggs. Threatening to criminalize in vitro fertilization. Offer bonuses to reporting physicians who provide abortion services. Abusing the filibuster and turning Congress into a broken institution. Advance judicial candidates who claimed to be committed to protecting “established law” while winking at their Republican sponsors in the Senate. Steal two seats on the Supreme Court.

For nearly 50 years, right-wing extremists have rejected the beliefs of an overwhelming majority of Americans. They doubled and redoubled their efforts to create a future in which women and their doctors could be sentenced to prison for seeking or providing basic health care. When these extremists were unable to impose their radical views through the legislative process, they piled on the courts. And now that the Supreme Court has opened the door by overturning Roe, Republicans will continue their assault on our civil rights and liberties.

Former Vice President Mike Pence has called for a national abortion ban in all 50 states; Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, bluntly stated that it was a possibility. And the logic expounded by the majority in Dobbs appears to undermine other precedents, raising the alarming possibility that we may soon see an invasion of privacy and marriage equality.

In order to undo the damage Republicans have done to our system in their efforts to control women’s lives, we need sweeping democratic reform: changing the makeup of the courts, reforming Senate rules like filibuster systematically, and even fix the outdated Electoral College that allowed presidential candidates who lost the popular vote to take office and appoint five of the judges who agreed to end abortion rights.

We cannot repair in five months the damage that took Republicans five decades to accomplish, but we can immediately begin to repair our democracy. The public is overwhelmingly on our side. A large majority of Americans oppose the Supreme Court’s decision. Nearly two-thirds of Americans think abortion should be legal in all or most cases. And more Americans describe themselves as pro-choice today than at any time in the past 25 years.

Let’s be clear: Roe may be gone, but the protections he once guaranteed are on the ballot. States like Kansas and Kentucky have initiatives to remove state constitutional protections for abortion, while Michigan and Vermont are working on statewide votes to create constitutional protections for freedom of procreation. But make no mistake, this sweeping decision affects all Americans, not just those in states where the right to safe and legal abortion will soon fall.

Now is the time to demand that every candidate for every position express a strong position on reproductive rights. Ask every Senate candidate to commit to reforming filibuster rules, so the chamber can pass federal legislation protecting the right to reproductive freedom. If the voters help us maintain our control of the House and extend our majority in the Senate by at least two votes in November, we can make Roe the law across the country as early as January.

Simply put: we must restore our democracy so that a radical minority can no longer drown out the will of the people. It will be a long and difficult fight, and the path to victory is not yet certain. But it’s a fair fight that we must win, no matter how long it takes. We both lived in an America without Roe, and we won’t be going back. Not now. Never.

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