Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on Sunday called the battle over abortion rights in the US the “biggest fight of a generation”.
The New York Democrat urged her party to stand up to concerted efforts from Republicans seeking to abolish the constitutional right, and called the news of the draft US supreme court opinion leaked last week revealing a conservative-leaning super-majority support overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade decision “bone-chilling”.
She told CNN’s State of the Union Sunday politics talk show: “This is the biggest fight of a generation… and if America’s women and the men who love them do not fight right now, we will lose the basic right to make decisions, to have bodily autonomy and to decide what our futures look like. ”
Mississippi long-time Republican governor Tate Reeves praised the draft ruling.
His state has the case currently before the court that includes the option not just to severely restrict the procedure further but specifically to overturn the Roe v Wade opinion that made abortion a federal right, which was reaffirmed by the supreme court in 1992.
“While this is a great victory for the pro-life movement, it is not the end. In fact, it’s just the beginning, ”Reeves said. A ban in Mississippi would not make exceptions for incest or a fetus with severe abnormalities that would stand little chance of surviving after birth.
He talked of providing more education for women, to help them get better jobs to support children.
Gillibrand called Reeves “paternalistic” and his and the court’s stance outrageous.
“It’s taking away women’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, our right to be a full citizen,” she said, adding that women are “half citizens under this ruling and if this is put into law, it changes the foundation” of America ”.
Reeves said Mississippi plans to improve adoption processes and foster care systems, despite the state having a poor record on healthcare for low-wealth women, in particular, and provide more resources for those expecting.
Gillibrand said: “I thought he was quite paternalistic towards women. He indicated… that all we need is more education for women. I was pretty offended by his remarks. He does not look at women as full citizens. ”
Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, a fellow New York Democrat, said on Sunday that a piece of legislation that has been stalled in Congress would be put to the vote by the Senate this week.
The Women’s Health Protection Act, which enshrines the rights afforded by Roe into federal legislation, rather than relying on court decisions, has passed the House of Representatives but was struck down in the senate in March, with one Democrat joining Republicans in opposing it.
That vote may not change but Democrats are eager to force senators to note on the record whether they would still refuse to protect the right, in light of the likelihood that the supreme court will overturn Roe.
The supreme court normally does not issue final decisions on the cases in each term until June, so there is still room for a change in the justices’ opinion, but observers lean towards that being unlikely.
Minnesota Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar told ABC’s This Week host Martha Raddatz that there were Democrats in Congress and Democratic candidates who do not support abortion rights.
But she said: “You have people who are personally pro-life but believe that that decision should be a woman’s personal choice, even if they might not agree with them. We have people in our party who vote to uphold Roe v Wade who might have different personal opinions, that’s a really important distinction. ”
She accused the supreme court, which achieved a right-leaning controlling majority after Donald Trump nominated three justices – now having six conservatives and only three liberal-leaning judges on the nine-member bench, or wanting to take America back into ancient history.
The draft opinion was written by conservative justice Samuel Alito.
“The court is looking at reversing 50 years of women’s rights, and the case will be swift. Over 20 states have laws [to ban] in place already. Who should make this decision, should it be a woman and her doctor, or a politician? Should it be [conservative Republican Senator] Ted Cruz or a woman and her family? Justice Alito is literally not just taking us back to the 1950s, he’s taking us back to the 1850s, ”Klobuchar said.
Pro-abortion rights groups NARAL pro-choice America, Planned Parenthood and Emily’s List plan between the three of them to put more than $ 150m into campaigns to support abortion rights advocates as political candidates in elections this year.
Mini Timmaraju, president of NARAL, told ABC: “As a movement, this has been probably the most devastating year since pre-1973.”