On June 30th, 2011, Center President and CEO Nancy Northup was featured on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews. Ms. Northup discussed the outrageous legislation in Kansas designed to effectively outlaw abortion and how the Center is challenging the law in court.
MATTHEWS: Nancy Northup is basically—is the president of the Center For Reproductive Rights down there. She has filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of one of those abortion providers down in Kansas.
Give us your sense, Nancy, Ms. Northup.
Thank you for joining us tonight on this.
It looks to me like this is an attempt to outlaw abortion, effectively. Is that how you see it? — in the state of Kansas.
NANCY NORTHUP, CENTER FOR REPRODUCTION RIGHT: Yes. Absolutely an attempt to outlaw abortion in the state of Kansas. These are medically unnecessary rules that were put into place in a kind of bogus procedural way, and our clients are not going to be able to provide abortion service tomorrow morning until we get into court tomorrow afternoon.
MATTHEWS: So, what happens—I mean, I‘m not going to make the argument here. Let you make the argument, you‘re the advocate. It seems to me it puts women who want to have an abortion in a double choice situation: travel out of state or go to someone who does it illegally?
NORTHUP: Well, absolutely.
MATTHEWS: That‘s effectively where it‘s going to come to, isn‘t it?
NORTHUP: The harm of these laws is that they hurt women. And, you know, one in three women in the United States has an abortion in her lifetime, and in the state of Kansas, there are many women who need to access abortion services. And our clients who provide services as part of the general OB/GYN practice, they do deliveries, they do abortion services, contraceptive services, they can‘t provide their patients with abortion services starting tomorrow morning unless we‘re able to get an injunction in court tomorrow afternoon.
MATTHEWS: Can you get—which court are you going to?
NORTHUP: Well, we‘re in the federal district court. We‘ve moved for a temporary restraining order and think the facts are strong that the court should apply a temporary restraining order. I mean, these are medically unnecessary burdensome provisions which, Kansas doesn‘t apply to doctors who do similar procedures. When Kansas decided general rules about doctors who provide surgical procedures in Kansas, they didn‘t put these requirements into place.
MATTHEWS: OK, I don‘t like the law used this way. We could argue this whole issue again a million times.
But here‘s the question I have for you—if this works, there‘s going to be copycatting, right? I mean, if you just can draw up the most onerous regulations in the world, make it 1,000 square feet, make it 2,000 square feet. Say you have to have a toilet that‘s 500 feet high in the air. You can make any rule you want, if your goal is to outlaw abortion. What stops it, this direction? What would stop it?
NORTHUP: We need the court to step in and protect women‘s constitutional rights, and protect the rights of these doctors who are providing services for their patients. I mean, it is so important for us to remember how critical our Bill of Rights is and that we need the court.
I mean, your analogy of voting rights was excellent. We need the court when majorities trample over the rights of citizens. And the Supreme Court has made clear, women have access to abortion services under the Constitution and Kansas is violating that right now.
MATTHEWS: OK. Now, let‘s look at the Supreme Court for just a minute. We only have a minute left. It seems that Sandra Day O‘Connor who was really holding the wall there for abortion rights all those years. She‘s gone.
Do you still—what do you have in the court now for the basics of Roe v. Wade, for the right to have an abortion the first two trimesters? Do you still have, do you have, 6-3 or is it 5-4 right now?
NORTHUP: Well, it‘s probably 5-4 and Justice Kennedy, of course, was in the majority in Planned Parenthood versus Casey, which reaffirmed the constitutional right for women to access abortion services.
And we believe that these types of laws will not withstand scrutiny, because they are burdensome. They are medically unnecessary. And their purpose is to shut down constitutionally protected medical services.
MATTHEWS: Well, look, Scalia is an honest guy, I can‘t see he—although he has his ideology. I don‘t see how he can support this kind of game-playing. This is not—this is a game here. This is not honest law-making, it seems to me. Whatever side you‘re on, this is not the way to decide this issue. It should be decide and a principle of a right or not a right.
Thank you so much, Nancy Northup, for coming on HARDBALL tonight.