2020 Dems condemn Alabama abortion bill: 'This is a war on women'

2020 Dems condemn Alabama abortion bill: 'This is a war on women'
© Greg Nash

Democratic presidential hopefuls decried the Alabama Senate’s passage on Tuesday of a measure that would outlaw almost all abortions in the state, accusing Republicans of carrying out a brazen attack on women’s rights in a bid to overturn decades of legal precedent.

The legislation, which would outlaw abortions at every stage of pregnancy with few exceptions, is the latest flashpoint in the national debate over abortion rights and the fate of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that recognized a woman’s right to the procedure.

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The bill’s passage was met with immediate scorn from Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Gillibrand Gillibrand relaunches PAC to elect women Analysis: 2020 digital spending vastly outpaces TV ads Two years after Maria, Puerto Rico awaits disaster funds MORE (D-N.Y.), who has put women’s issues front and center in her campaign. She said that the measure was the latest salvo in a “war on women” and that it was time to “fight like hell.”

Gillibrand took the unusual step last week of pledging to only nominate judges who would uphold the legal precedent set by Roe if she wins the presidency, becoming the first candidate in the 2020 field to set such a litmus test for would-be judicial nominees.

Another Democratic hopeful, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWarren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest Pelosi wants to change law to allow a sitting president to be indicted MORE (D-Mass.), called the Alabama legislation “dangerous and exceptionally cruel” and, like Gillibrand, vowed to combat efforts to implement new limitations on abortions.

“This ban is dangerous and exceptionally cruel—and the bill’s authors want to use it to overturn Roe v. Wade. I've lived in that America and let me tell you: We are not going back—not now, not ever,” Warren wrote on Twitter. “We will fight this. And we will win.”

The bill passed on Tuesday still has to be signed by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) before it becomes law. Ivey has not yet said whether she will sign the measure, though its supporters widely expect her to.

Opponents of the legislation have already vowed to fight it in court, a move that its authors anticipate and hope to use to challenge the central ruling in Roe in the Supreme Court.

The looming legal fights over the bill could resurface calls by some Democratic presidential hopefuls to expand the size of the Supreme Court in order to dilute the influence of its current conservative majority, a concept known as court-packing.

Already, a handful of Democratic hopefuls, including Warren, Gillibrand, Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisTrump reignites court fight with Ninth Circuit pick MSNBC Climate Change Forum draws 1.3M viewers in 8 pm timeslot Iowa Steak Fry to draw record crowds for Democrats MORE (D-Calif.), South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul Buttigieg2020 Democrats defend climate priorities in MSNBC forum MSNBC Climate Change Forum draws 1.3M viewers in 8 pm timeslot Iowa Steak Fry to draw record crowds for Democrats MORE and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), have left the door open to court-packing, though that idea was largely absent from the discussion over the Alabama abortion bill on Wednesday.

Harris chimed into the conversation on Tuesday, calling the recently passed legislation “outrageous.”

The California senator also seized on news of the bill’s passage in an email to supporters soliciting donations to a handful of abortion rights advocacy groups.

“Let’s speak truth: This hateful, unlawful war on abortion rights isn’t isolated to Alabama, or even the South,” Harris said in the email. “It is a calculated measure by right-wing groups designed to end Roe v. Wade and legal abortion access as we know it.”

Buttigieg likewise sent a fundraising email on Wednesday, declaring that “reproductive freedom is an American freedom.”

“The government's role should be to make sure all women have access to comprehensive affordable care, and that includes preventive care, contraceptive services, prenatal through postpartum care, and safe and legal abortion,” Buttigieg said.

“But instead of ensuring care, our legislators are ignoring science, criminalizing abortion, and punishing women.”

The Alabama bill isn’t the only measure limiting abortion access that has advanced through state legislatures this year. Governors in several states, including Georgia, Kentucky and Ohio, have signed into law bills that ban abortion around the time that doctors can usually detect a fetal heartbeat.

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenJulián Castro: It's time for House Democrats to 'do something' about Trump Warren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest MORE, who is currently leading the Democratic primary field in the polls, said Wednesday that the Alabama legislation, as well as recently passed laws in other states, should be declared unconstitutional, asserting that the central question of Roe — whether the Constitution provides a fundamental protection for a woman’s decision to have an abortion — has long been settled.

“Republicans in AL, FL, GA, and OH are ushering in laws that clearly violate Roe v Wade and they should be declared unconstitutional,” Biden tweeted. “Roe v Wade is settled law and should not be overturned. This choice should remain between a woman and her doctor.”

Another 2020 contender, Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharMSNBC Climate Change Forum draws 1.3M viewers in 8 pm timeslot The two most important mental health reforms the Trump administration should consider Sanders searches for answers amid Warren steamroller MORE (D-Minn.), said as much in a tweet of her own, declaring the Alabama law unconstitutional.

“This bill in Alabama is effectively a ban on abortion,” she wrote. “This is wrong. This is unconstitutional.”