Today, in a deeply divided nation while an election is already underway, the U.S. Senate confirmed Amy Coney Barrett as an Associate Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court by a vote of 52-48. The American public deserved a comprehensive vetting and full assessment of the legal views of the person nominated to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. What the public got was a shamelessly truncated and woefully partisan process.
Justice Barrett’s academic writings, court decisions, and public advocacy reveal a legal view that the U.S. Constitution does not protect an individual’s personal liberty to make decisions about their reproductive health. This has incredibly troubling implications for the Supreme Court’s settled jurisprudence that the Fourteenth Amendment protects the right to access contraception and abortion care. Counter to her clear and documented record of extreme opposition to reproductive rights, Justice Barrett testified in her Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that she would join the Court with no agenda. Only time will be the judge of that.
Dozens of abortion-rights cases are heading toward the Supreme Court and one is already there; the state of Mississippi is seeking review of its 15-week abortion ban, which the Center for Reproductive Rights successfully blocked in the lower courts as unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade. Also in the pipeline are other cases we are litigating on abortion access, contraception, and the ability to make our own healthcare decisions. The stakes are too high for us to back down.
We go to court because it matters to people’s lives. We don’t bring cases to vindicate abstract legal theories; we bring cases to ensure that the promise of the Constitution is realized for everyone. The Supreme Court has long recognized the fundamental truth that control over reproductive decisions critically impacts “[t]he ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation.” We see this every day in the way women in the U.S. live their lives. The overwhelming majority use contraception. One in four will make the decision to end a pregnancy. Increasingly, people are turning to assisted reproduction in creating their families. Millions have already benefited from the Affordable Care Act, including gaining access to maternal health care, no co-pay contraception, and coverage for pre-existing conditions. And when access to reproductive healthcare is burdened, when clinics are closed, and when healthcare is unaffordable, the consequences fall hardest on Black, Indigenous and people of color, rural communities and people living in poverty. This is why we go to court.
Daunting challenges are ahead but we are undaunted.
We will fight in the courts. We will push for federal and state legislation that will remove barriers to accessing reproductive healthcare, including the Women’s Health Protection Act and the EACH Woman Act.
What we will not do is give up. Ever.
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