Pelosi outlines possible legislative response to Roe reversal
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday outlined several legislative proposals House Democrats are weighing as responses to the Supreme Court’s Friday decision overturning the Roe v. Wade decision establishing a constitutional right to abortion services.
In a letter to her troops, Pelosi said Democrats have been bracing for the high court’s action since a draft ruling was published by Politico early last month.
Pelosi cited three specific proposals that House Democrats are considering.
One would codify the 1973 Roe decision into law. Another would make clear that women are free to travel across the country for any reason — an effort to preempt any attempts by states to prohibit cross-state travel in pursuit of legal abortion services. And a third would protect reproductive health data, such as that stored on apps, from being collected and distributed to third parties.
The latter proposal, sponsored by Rep. Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.), is designed to prevent that data from being “used against women by a sinister prosecutor in a state that criminalizes abortion,” Pelosi wrote.
“[It] protects your reproductive and sexual health data from apps, from website searches, so that it can’t be used against you. It can’t be sold or shared,” Jacobs said on Friday in front of the Supreme Court.
Pelosi also went after Justice Clarence Thomas, who had used Friday’s ruling overturning Roe to advocate for the elimination of other court-endorsed rights, including those to gay marriage and certain forms of contraception. The Speaker said Democrats are also busy on legislation designed to prop up those freedoms and preempt any future court from eliminating them.
“Legislation is being introduced to further codify freedoms which Americans currently enjoy,” she wrote. “More information to follow.”
It’s unlikely that any of the proposals would find the Republican support in the Senate to overcome a GOP filibuster and find its way to President Biden’s desk. Indeed, House Democrats have already passed legislation this Congress to codify Roe, only to have it go nowhere in the upper chamber.
Still, Democrats are hoping to demonstrate, post-Roe, that they are the party that protects personal liberty — and that their message will stir like-minded voters to the polls in a year when their base is deflated and Democrats are expected to lose control of the House.
Those dynamics are not lost on Pelosi, who had issued a similar letter last week, after the Roe decision, acknowledging that “the path forward will depend on the outcome of the upcoming midterm elections.”
“We must continue to beat the drum – not only of what the challenges are, but what we as Democrats are doing about it,” she said at the time.
It was a message she amplified on Monday.
“It is essential that we protect and expand our pro-choice Majorities in the House and Senate in November so that we can eliminate the filibuster so that we can restore women’s fundamental rights – and freedom for every American,” she wrote.