Supreme Court

New England Lawmakers Demand Legislative Action to Protect Abortion Rights

With a leaked draft opinion suggesting the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, members of New England's largely Democratic Congressional delegation are calling for abortion rights to be codified into law

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New England's largely Democratic delegation responded to reporting that the Supreme Court is prepared to overturn Roe v. Wade with fury and calls for Congress to protect the abortion rights it has guaranteed for half a century.

Politico reported Monday that a draft opinion circulated by justices suggests the high court's majority supports the overturning of the landmark 1973 case.



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Lawmakers from New England say Congress has to act.

"Abortion care is a fundamental human right and we must legislate like it," Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Massachusetts, said in a tweet.

Pressley issued a longer statement Tuesday morning that read in part:

"Our fundamental right to abortion care is under attack, and the draft majority opinion overturning Roe v. Wade shows that the stakes could not be higher. We must be clear: abortion care is still legal in America, but Congress must legislate to protect this fundamental human right and codify it into law. We know that our most vulnerable communities will bear the disproportionate brunt of any decision to restrict and deny access to abortion care—particularly Black, brown, Indigenous, LGBTQIA+ and low-income people. We must legislate as if our lives depend on it, because they do."

"Congress must pass legislation that codifies Roe v. Wade as the law of the land in this country NOW," said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont. "And if there aren't 60 votes in the Senate to do it, and there are not, we must end the filibuster to pass it with 50 votes."

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said, “As a pro-choice governor, I am committed to upholding Roe v. Wade, which is why I am proud of the bipartisan bill headed to my desk this year that expands access. So long as I am governor, these health care services for women will remain safe and legal.”

Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, argued that more justices are needed on the bench.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, said the "extremist Supreme Court" was seeking to "impose its far-right, unpopular views on the entire country," calling for those who support abortion rights to speak up.

As Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, noted, the reported opinion is a draft and abortion remains legal. "We cannot go back to criminalizing women's health care," she said.

One New England lawmaker who remained silent Monday night was Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. Collins issued a statement about the leak Tuesday morning.

“If this leaked draft opinion is the final decision and this reporting is accurate, it would be completely inconsistent with what Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh said in their hearings and in our meetings in my office," Collins said. "Obviously, we won’t know each Justice’s decision and reasoning until the Supreme Court officially announces its opinion in this case.”

Many tweets reminded the world that Collins, a pro-choice moderate, voted for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh after saying the controversial nominee believes Roe v. Wade is "settled law."

"We talked about whether he considered Roe to be settled law," Collins said in 2018 after meeting with Kavanaugh before his confirmation hearing. "He said that he agreed with what Justice Roberts said at his nomination hearing, in which he said that it was settled law. We had a very good, thorough discussion about that issue and many others."

After the Supreme Court declined to block Texas' restrictive abortion law last September, Collins also called on Congress to strengthen the protections in Roe v. Wade.

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) issued a statement noting that across the country, 70% of Americans oppose a federal ban on abortion care.

“A ban on abortions will not stop abortions—it will stop safe reproductive care. In a pre-Roe America, women died because they didn’t have access to basic reproductive health care. I never thought that we’d turn back the clock to that dark time," Pingree said. "The government shouldn’t be able to tell anyone what to do with their own bodies. If you can’t force someone to donate blood, you can’t force someone into pregnancy."

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