State Watch

Democratic governors urge Congress to codify Roe v. Wade in light of draft opinion

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A coalition of 17 Democratic governors sent a letter to Congress Tuesday urging U.S. lawmakers to codify Roe v. Wade to protect the right to abortion access following a draft opinion leaked from the Supreme Court that would overturn the landmark ruling.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D), who is leading the coalition, shared the Tuesday letter on Twitter. It urges Congress to “take immediate action to protect reproductive rights across the nation” by passing the Women’s Health Protection Act — legislation introduced in September 2021 that would guarantee a women’s right to abortion access.

“Reproductive healthcare decisions are deeply personal and should be made by patients in consultation with their healthcare providers, not by politicians,” the letter reads. “The consequences of overturning Roe v. Wade for millions across the nation cannot be overstated. Our collective responsibility to defend access to reproductive healthcare, including abortion, has never been more important.”

In addition to Evers, the letter was signed by Govs. Gavin Newsom (Calif.), Ned Lamont (Conn.), Jared Polis (Colo.), J.B. Pritzker (Ill.), Gretchen Whitmer (Mich.), Tim Walz (Minn.) and Steve Sisolak (Nev.), Phil Murphy (N.J.), Michelle Lujan Grisham (N.M.), Kathy Hochul (N.Y.), Roy Cooper (N.C.), Kate Brown (Ore.), Tom Wolf (Pa.), Daniel McKee (R.I.), Jay Inslee (Wash.) and Albert Bryan Jr. (Virgin Islands).

Politico on Monday night leaked a draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito and backed by a conservative majority that would overturn Roe v. Wade. The court will is expected to rule on the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which involves a challenge to a 15-week abortion ban in Mississippi, in the coming weeks.

Chief Justice John Roberts released a statement on Tuesday confirming the authenticity of the draft opinion, but noted it was just a draft and opinions could change. He also called for an investigation into who leaked it.

Both the leak and its contents drew an explosion of concerns across the country from politicians, advocacy organizations and celebrities.

On Tuesday, President Biden called on Congress and states to act and said Americans should vote in pro-choice candidates in the upcoming midterm elections.

“If the Court does overturn Roeit will fall on our nation’s elected officials at all levels of government to protect a woman’s right to choose,” Biden said. “And it will fall on voters to elect pro-choice officials this November.” 

After former president Donald Trump installed a 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court, Republican-led states from Texas to Oklahoma have introduced new laws that severely limit abortion access.

Thirteen states have trigger laws in place, designed to take effect automatically or by quick state action if Roe no longer applies.

In the letter to Congress, the Democratic governors warned that some conservative states could quickly criminalize abortion without federal intervention.

“Overturning Roe will turn back the clock on reproductive health, and Congress must immediately take action to ensure that our nation does not go backward and that the rights of all Americans to access reproductive healthcare and abortion continue to be protected,” the letter reads.

Tags abortion rights Biden Democratic governors John Roberts Minnesota New York Roe v. Wade Samuel Alito Supreme Court TOny Evers Tony Evers Washington Wisconsin
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