New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who has made women’s issues a major focus of her presidential campaign, is promising to only nominate judges that will uphold the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision protecting a woman’s right to an abortion, should she become president.
The Democratic presidential hopeful said women must be trusted to make their own medical decisions and deserve a president who understands the real stakes in the fight for the judiciary and the impact of judicial appointments on reproductive rights.
“I believe that reproductive rights are human rights, and they are nonnegotiable. So in the face of relentless attacks, I pledge that I will only nominate judges – including Supreme Court justices – who will commit to upholding Roe v. Wade,” she wrote on Twitter, linking to a Medium post explaining her rationale.
In the post, Gillibrand argued Republicans have worked aggressively to chip away at access to reproductive health care in states across the country. Twenty-eight state legislatures have introduced abortion restrictions this year, according to the Guttmacher Institute – including laws in Ohio, Georgia, Kentucky and Mississippi that ban most abortion procedures after six weeks, before most women know they are pregnant. This is all part of a nationwide GOP effort to force another Supreme Court fight over abortion, she said, “because they want a court ruling that guts abortion access nationwide, forever.”
On Twitter, Gillibrand also pointed to the bill Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, signed on Tuesday that would ban abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected – a law that the American Civil Liberties Union says it will challenge in court.
Gillibrand, who has focused most of her campaigning on the critical early states of Iowa and New Hampshire, has struggled to gain traction in recent state and national polls, averaging in the low single digits. Moves like this one can generate buzz in a crowded field.
In the post, Gillibrand said President Donald Trump vowed to punish women for accessing abortion when he was a candidate and argues he has made good on that promise by stacking the Supreme Court with anti-abortion rights “extremists” Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch. In 2016, while vying for the GOP nomination, Trump said women should face “some sort of punishment” for getting abortions if the procedure was outlawed. Then, following outcry, he reversed that statement, saying women were victims.
“I realize that traditionally, presidents and presidential candidates haven’t drawn lines in the sand on judicial appointments,” Gillibrand wrote. “That tradition ended when Mitch McConnell obstructed the nomination process and stole a Supreme Court seat, when Donald Trump nominated dozens of ideologically extreme judges hand-picked by far-right think tanks, and when Republicans confirmed a Supreme Court Justice who is credibly accused of sexual misconduct.” Kavanaugh has consistently denied allegations of sexual misconduct.
Her Roe v. Wade litmus test won praise on Twitter from Ilyse Hogue, president of the abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America.
“[Gillibrand] knows how crucial fixing the judiciary will be for the next president and she’s committed to getting it done!” Hogue wrote.
Women made up a majority of donors (about 52.5%) to Gillibrand’s presidential campaign in the first quarter, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Gillibrand has long been vocal about issues of concern to women and families, like equal pay, affordable child care, universal pre-K, paid family leave and a $15 minimum wage. She made a name for herself on Capitol Hill working to help prevent sexual misconduct in the military, on college campuses and in the workplace.
Gillibrand has sought to put action behind her positions, like last month, when she endorsed liberal activist Marie Newman over Rep. Daniel Lipinski of Illinois, an anti-abortion rights Democrat.