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.
ADVERTISEMENTThe bill’s passage was met with immediate scorn from Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Warren, Pressley introduce bill to make it a crime for police officers to deny medical care to people in custody Senate Dems press DOJ over coronavirus safety precautions in juvenile detention centers 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.”
Alabama just passed a near-total ban on abortion.
No exceptions for rape or incest.
Doctors could face 99 years in prison for providing abortions.
This is a war on women, and it is time to fight like hell. https://t.co/lhwlbyeQsl
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) May 15, 2019
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 WarrenWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names 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.”
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. We will fight this. And we will win. https://t.co/WNlr7Ys73q
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) May 15, 2019
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 HarrisRand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook McEnany says Juneteenth is a very ‘meaningful’ day to Trump MORE (D-Calif.), South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegScaled-back Pride Month poses challenges for fundraising, outreach Biden hopes to pick VP by Aug. 1 It’s as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process 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.”
Outrageous news coming out of Alabama. This law would effectively ban abortions in the state and criminalize doctors for doing their jobs – providing health care to women. https://t.co/90utkxn7J2
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) May 15, 2019
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.
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“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 BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook 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.”
Republicans in AL, FL, GA, and OH are ushering in laws that clearly violate Roe v Wade and they should be declared unconstitutional. Roe v Wade is settled law and should not be overturned. This choice should remain between a woman and her doctor.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) May 15, 2019
Another 2020 contender, Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Democrats demand Republican leaders examine election challenges after Georgia voting chaos Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk 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.”
This bill in Alabama is effectively a ban on abortion. This is wrong. This is unconstitutional. https://t.co/dsRWqAY4PW
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— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) May 15, 2019