The wrong judges could threaten a generation of women

The wrong judges could threaten a generation of women
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Over the past year, women have led the opposition to the Trump administration and Republican leadership’s attacks on access to health care, turned a close election in Virginia into a landslide, and signaled their intent to run for elected office in record numbers.

But while women have been fighting back and making headlines, the Trump administration and Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPelosi: 'Thug' Putin not welcome in Congress GOP to White House: End summit mystery Sunk judicial pick spills over into Supreme Court fight MORE have quickly and quietly changed Senate rules to stack the courts with ideologues who would put politicians in charge of some of the most fundamental decisions a woman has to make: where she gets health care and if and when she has a child.

In the Eighth Circuit, for example, Steven Grasz, whose nomination is expected to be voted on in the Judiciary Committee today, has been an active opponent of reproductive rights for decades.

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He’s so extreme that the American Bar Association’s (ABA) standing committee unanimously concluded that he was “not qualified” to serve as a federal judge. He is one of four Trump nominees the ABA has given the thumbs down to, an unprecedented number for any administration.

 

Meanwhile, Amy Coney Barrett has been a vocal opponent of Roe v. Wade, and she has publicly said that employers should be able to deny their employees access to birth control. 

By changing the rules, the Senate has already confirmed nine Circuit Court judges and has enough time to move a couple more before the end of the year. By contrast, at this time during President Obama’s administration, he’d had just three circuit court judges confirmed.

All told, there are more than 140 federal judicial vacancies, each one a lifetime appointment. That’s why we need our senators to do everything in their power to stop these nominees. The health and lives of millions of women are at stake.

Because across the country, the courts are often the only check on lawmakers bent on making women’s health care decisions.

During the first six months of this year, legislators in six states have introduced measures to ban all abortions, and legislators in 28 states have introduced measures to ban abortions under some circumstances, many of which should be struck down under the Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health. Many of these states also have judicial vacancies — future judges who could decide the fate of women’s health and lives in their states.

At the national level, just a few weeks ago, the Trump administration used every tool at their disposal to prevent a young immigrant woman in Texas from accessing health care — essentially holding her hostage to prevent her from accessing a safe, legal abortion. Thankfully, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals stopped the administration and allowed her to access the care she needed.

Planned Parenthood has been around for more than 100 years. We’ve seen women fight hard and win their rights to access to basic reproductive health care over the last generation — and we know that those rights could disappear if we don’t stop extreme judges from being appointed. Progress is not guaranteed.

Planned Parenthood and our 10 million supporters are prepared to fight this attempt to use our judicial system to undermine women’s health and rights in any way we can. We need our senators to do the same.

Cecile Richards (@CecileRichards) is the president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.