Center Cites Critical Role of Courts as the House, Senate, Governorships and State Legislatures Become More Anti-Choice

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(PRESS RELEASE) Today, the Center for Reproductive Rights highlighted the important role of the courts in protecting reproductive rights in light of the 2010 midterm election results. The House of Representatives likely gained at least forty-nine anti-choice members with several races still being decided. The Senate retained a slim but diminished pro-choice majority with three races still being counted. In the states, ten pro-choice governorships were lost with several races still undecided. Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, issued this statement in response:
“Over night, the political landscape of the country shifted significantly with anti-choice forces increasing their strength in the U.S. House of Representatives, Senate, governorships and statehouses. Yesterday’s election was not a referendum on reproductive rights, but a reflection of voters’ deep economic concerns. But reproductive rights will be collateral damage.  The Center for Reproductive Rights works for the day when this isn’t so, when a woman’s fundamental right to make decisions about when and whether to have children is not subject to the political shifts and reprisals of the day.  While we advance that vision, we face the reality that many of these new officeholders will promote laws that jeopardize women’s health, dignity and equality.  And our federal and state courts will be critical to block those laws.
“On the federal front, there are already members of Congress who would use any means to block access to abortion, and they just got a slew of new allies. We anticipate that anti-choice leadership in the House, buoyed by new members, will aggressively attempt to push through anti-choice measures.  We look to pro-choice members of Congress to be a bulwark against such rights violations and to the President for leadership when they do.
“While considerable focus is on Washington today, the states are likely to lead the way in endangering women’s health and lives.   This past year, state lawmakers introduced more than six-hundred bills intended to restrict women’s access to abortion, and some secured passage. In some cases, it was pro-choice governors who stood up for women’s health and vetoed extreme bills, several of those seats were lost yesterday to anti-choice candidates. In other cases, it was state and federal courts that blocked those laws from going into effect.
“Now more than ever, the courts will play a critical role in protecting women’s rights against legislative action. Since the last election in 2008, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed thirteen new cases in nine different states in an effort to beat back the unrelenting attacks. This is more new lawsuits than in any two-year period during the Bush presidency. Armed with the U.S. and state constitutions, we have been successful at temporarily or permanently blocking enforcement of those laws in eleven of those cases.
“As we do with governments around the world, we will hold the U.S. and state legislatures accountable for violations of women’s rights. We cannot allow women’s health and rights to be a political casualty of election results.”