State Democrats Continue to Stand Up for Women's Health
We are now more than a week into the confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, and he still refuses to address Democratic Senators’ questions on a woman’s right to choose. Even so, Gorsuch’s history of ruling against women’s access to birth control, his extensive writing on “personhood,” and endorsements from at least 60 anti-choice groups have abortion-restricting Republicans in state legislatures convinced that this is the Supreme Court nominee they’ve been waiting for. That’s why Democrats across the country have been furiously writing and passing bills that will protect a woman’s access to reproductive care if Gorsuch is confirmed.
Even though Gorsuch has refused to be forthcoming about his position on abortion, state Democrats have made it clear that they will always side with women and uphold their constitutional right to choose. Thanks to Democratic legislators, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, and Washington already have laws on the books that protect Roe’s standing in their state. Democrats in New York and Rhode Island are working to pass similar laws, while Democrats in the Colorado House succeeded in killing three anti-choice bills pushed by state Republicans. Anticipating that Trump would appoint an anti-choice justice, Democrats in state legislatures across the country have made protecting reproductive rights and women’s healthcare a legislative priority since his election.
Meanwhile, state Republicans have spent the past few months drafting over 150 anti-choice bills. Republicans in at least 10 states have proposed total bans on abortion, including extremist “heartbeat” bills (in Ohio), which have been previously ruled unconstitutional. With Republicans flooding state capitols with anti-choice bills, Gorsuch may have plenty of opportunities to roll back Roe v. Wade’s protections when these bad bills are challenged in court by Democrats and reproductive rights advocates.
Beyond looking to undermine Roe, Republican state legislators have continuously waged their war on women by pushing back on the “undue burden” protection guaranteed by Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), passing patronizing laws targeting healthcare providers and women. Despite a 2016 Supreme Court case that struck down some of the most extreme versions of these measures (in Texas), many Republican laws still facing court challenges from Democrats and reproductive rights organizations may find their way to the Supreme Court.
For example, Gorsuch may have the opportunity to uphold Texas’ dubious fetal burial law, which requires funeral rites for aborted or miscarried fetuses, or Kentucky’s disgraceful mandatory ultrasound law (also enacted in 13 other states) that forces women to undergo an involuntary ultrasound and hear audio and see images of the fetus before their procedure. The Supreme Court could even move to protect doctors who lie to their pregnant patients about the health or viability of the fetus, like this bill just passed by the Texas Senate allows.
Even though Republicans have been working endlessly to erect new barriers to a woman’s right to choose, Democrats continue to fight to block these obstacles and defend women’s healthcare against Gorsuch’s future attacks. Democrats are not only moving to protect a woman’s right to choose; they’re also pushing bold measures to expand access to contraception in Nevada, Virginia, Connecticut, and New Mexico. Across the country, Democratic state legislators are ensuring that neither Trump nor Gorsuch can suppress women’s rights and impede state progress.