Presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren rolled out a new proposal Friday morning that calls on Congress to codify federal protections for abortion rights as she warned Republican efforts to undo Roe v. Wade “just might work.”
The Massachusetts Democrat sounded the alarm while pointing to recent legislation in a slew of states, including Alabama and Georgia, that would effectively block or severely restrict women from accessing abortion services. The bills clash explicitly with the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling establishing federal guarantees to abortion rights and could pave the way for a new high court challenge.
“These extremist Republican lawmakers know what the law is – but they don’t care,” Warren wrote. “They want to turn back the clock, outlaw abortion and deny women access to reproductive health care. And they are hoping the Supreme Court will back their radical play. I’ll be blunt: It just might work.”
Warren said Congress should respond by both guaranteeing abortion rights and expanding access to reproductive services, abortion and contraception.
Warren’s latest policy offering on Friday was filled as well with calls for people to take action, both by letting their opposition to abortion rollbacks be known and to run for office. She also made reference twice to Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who legal observers have said could tip the scale potentially against Roe if the Supreme Court decides to revisit the 1973 ruling.
Other 2020 Democrats have called for codifying protections for abortion rights. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand vowed in Georgia on Thursday to codify Roe into law and guarantee access to abortion for people in every state. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker has made a similar vow, and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said after the passage of Alabama’s new legislation that the next president “must act to enshrine Roe v. Wade into law.”
While Warren’s detailed list of federal actions would take significant political backing and Democratic control of both chambers of Congress, her Friday proposal is a reflection of the heightened attention being paid to what many abortion rights activists view as an existential reckoning on the horizon.
In her plan, Warren said Congress should pass laws that provide statutory guarantees for rights established under Roe, invalidating laws like the one recently passed in Alabama, while also being durable enough to withstand a Supreme Court decision overturning it. Such statutory guarantees, she said, should prohibit states from interfering with both health care providers and patients seeking their care, including for abortions.
She also called further for federal guarantees to “preempt” other state efforts that limit access to reproductive health care without explicitly targeting Roe, and pointed to existing legislation called the Women’s Health Protection Act.
Warren’s proposal would have the federal government guarantee patient access to reproductive health care by undoing the Hyde amendment, a rule preventing federal money from going to abortion services, and by passing a law prohibiting insurers from restricting abortion.
Notably, Warren said “all future health coverage – including Medicare for All – includes contraception and abortion coverage.”
Warren said beyond these measures, she wanted to change the tide on the issue more broadly, including rolling back Trump administration moves like its attempt to impose a “gag rule” on Title X family planning and to “crack down on violence at abortion clinics.”