Last night, while nominating Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, Trump attempted to erase all the times he promised to appoint justices who would, in his words, “automatically” overturn Roe v. Wade — referring to the Constitution and the law, and denying that he asked Kavanaugh about his personal political beliefs.
Maybe that’s because he’s finally listening to his staff. Maybe it’s because he read the polls showing that 70 percent of Americans believe abortion should be safe and legal, as it has been for 45 years.
Trump promised to nominate only judges who would overturn Roe and allow states to criminalize abortion in this country — and we should take him at his word.
In fact, Kavanaugh has already ruled to restrict access to safe, legal abortion.
Last year, he attempted to block a young undocumented woman in U.S. custody from accessing the safe, legal abortion she wanted — even after she had cleared Texas’ numerous legal hurdles.
If Kavanaugh had his way, the government would have delayed the young woman’s abortion by more than a month, pushing her into the second trimester. Fortunately, the full court on which he sits intervened and allowed the young woman to access the health care she needed.
If he was willing to use his position of power to block this woman’s most basic human right to make her own personal health decision there can be little doubt that he’ll do the same to women across the country.
And it’s not just the right to access abortion. Kavanaugh ruled against women’s access to birth control, authoring a dissenting opinion in the D.C. Circuit’s 2015 ruling on the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit, in which he wrote that he believed bosses have the right to impose their personal beliefs on their employees and deny them birth control coverage.
It’s clear he cannot be trusted to uphold Roe v. Wade, a precedent that holds that the Constitution affords every person the individual liberty to make decisions about their body and their relationships, including the right to access contraception and to have an abortion.
But Trump and his acolytes in Congress will continue touting Kavanaugh’s “respect for precedent,” “settled law” and “stare decisis” — all empty words that we’ve heard over and over again in Supreme Court confirmations. In the past, nominees who used those words to duck and weave through their confirmation have turned around and issued decisions that ignored precedent, and had they been in the majority, would have demolished our rights.
There is too much at stake to accept such a vague commitment to individual liberty.
The Senate must hold the next Supreme Court justice to the Personal Liberty Standard, rejecting any nominee who refuses to affirmatively declare that they believe the U.S. Constitution protects individual liberty and the right of all people to make personal decisions about their bodies and personal relationships.
The balance of the court is at stake — and with Kavanaugh’s nomination, our constitutional right to have an abortion in this country is tipping away from us.
One in four women in the U.S. have an abortion. I am one of them, and as the mother of three daughters, I know just how high the stakes are. Abortion is normal, safe health care that has been constitutionally protected for nearly half a century.
Generations of women have grown up believing that they are in charge of their own bodies, that they are free and equal and can pursue their goals and decide for themselves whether and when to have children. That’s what I believe. That’s what my daughters believe.
Kavanaugh’s nomination is the latest attack by the Trump administration to take away women's access to health care. Since taking office, the Trump-Pence administration has pushed policy after policy meant to strip us of our basic health and rights, including attacks on the Affordable Care Act, gutting the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, letting bosses deny women birth control, and just recently a gag rule on providers in the Title X program for affordable birth control and reproductive health care.
We cannot and we will not sit back quietly and watch our rights be stripped away. We cannot accept a world where our children have fewer rights than we have.
Our supporters are organizing events in all 50 states, making thousands and thousands of phone calls to Senators, and speaking out at town halls. In the last 18 months, millions of people have marched, flooded town halls and the halls of Congress to demand our rights. More women are running for office and more of them are getting elected.
We were already fired up. Kavanaugh’s nomination, part of an all out attack on reproductive rights and access, will only fan the flames.
Dawn Laguens is the executive vice president and chief brand officer of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund (PPAF). She directs Planned Parenthood’s message, political and policy strategies — leading the organization’s work to defend access to care for millions of patients and advance reproductive rights and freedoms for all.