Statement by President Nadler for the hearing on “Revoking Your Rights: The Current Abortion Care Access Crisis”

Washington, DC – Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following opening statement, as prepared, during a full hearing on “Revoking Your Rights: The Ingoing Crisis in Abortion Care Access”:

“Two weeks ago, in an unprecedented leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion, we learned that, for the first time in its history, the Court may be on the verge of overturning a precedent to remove a constitutional right.

“By doing so, he would revoke the constitutional right to abortion, a fundamental right he first recognized nearly 50 years ago in Roe v. Wade, and on whom millions of Americans have relied for half a century.

“I want to state up front that I do not condone such leaks and anyone responsible for them must be held accountable.

“But now that we have this information, we cannot ignore the reality and magnitude of what the Court may be about to do and what Congressional Republicans have said they will do once they are. empowered to enact a nationwide abortion ban.

“The decision to become a parent is up to that individual. She can consult her doctor or her loved ones to inform this decision – and I hope she has such people in her life to help her make this decision – but the decision is hers. Period.

“Overthrowing Roe would take away from individuals the power to decide the fundamental question of carrying or terminating a pregnancy and, instead, would give that power to the state. It is both timely and appropriate for the Judiciary Committee to educate the American people about the devastating impact such a decision would have and examine the current crisis in access to abortion care that is already affecting people across the country. .

“Before I continue, I want to say something to everyone who is currently considering abortion care. Despite these very real concerns about the state of access to abortion care or its continued legality, allow me to be clear: abortion remains legal and your right to have an abortion continues to be protected by the Constitution, at least for now.

“Deciding when and how to start a family is at the heart of women’s lives. The right to decide whether to carry or terminate a pregnancy is at the heart of life, liberty and equality.

“This is the very essence of what it means to have bodily autonomy, which is a prerequisite for freedom. Again, to put it simply, the decision to become a parent rests with that individual. Period.

“No court decision is more central to protecting a woman’s individual autonomy than Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case recognizing a constitutional right to abortion.

“Roe represented a watershed moment in our nation’s history, recognizing women’s right to make reproductive decisions as a fundamental right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and a pillar of women’s equality.

“In doing so, the Supreme Court continued a series of decisions that rejected government interference in the most intimate decisions in the lives of Americans. To the court, “[f]new decisions [were] more personal and intimate, properly private, or more fundamental to individual dignity and autonomy than a woman’s decision. . . whether to terminate her pregnancy.

“Nearly 20 years later, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the right to abortion, finding it essential to a woman’s dignity, autonomy, and status as an equal citizen. Indeed, if Americans cannot make decisions about their reproductive health, they cannot decide to start a career, go to school, open a business and plan their lives.

“Unfortunately, Roe and Casey remain under constant threat, resulting in an ongoing crisis in access to abortion and other lifesaving health services. Over the past decade, state legislatures have enacted hundreds of bills aimed at preventing individuals from accessing abortion care.

“Under the pretext that these laws protect women’s health, these states are deliberately trying to put abortion out of reach. This is despite the fact that numerous studies have concluded that childbirth involves more serious health complications than abortion.

“Meanwhile, according to the recently disclosed draft majority opinion in the ongoing case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization written by Justice Samuel Alito, an emboldened right-wing majority on the Supreme Court appears poised to completely revoke the right to abortion.

“To be clear, this draft remains just that – a draft opinion – and we await the actual decision of the Court, which should be delivered in the coming weeks. Nevertheless, we cannot simply ignore the fact that the Nation now appears to be at a constitutional crossroads.

“If the Supreme Court overturns or severely restricts Roe – a precedent that women have relied on for nearly half a century to make decisions about how best to organize their lives – future generations will have fewer rights. than those that preceded them.

“At least 23 states have laws in place to limit abortions, including 13 that have ‘trigger laws’ that would automatically ban all abortions if Roe were to fall, and at least 8 states have pre-Roe bans that would become enforceable again. if Roe be knocked down. Virtually overnight, whether the government protects the basic individual right to make reproductive health decisions will depend entirely on where a person lives in that country.

“Furthermore, if the leaked draft opinion becomes the actual court decision, it would exacerbate an already serious crisis in access to abortion care. The consequences will be devastating. Women who cannot afford to travel, women of color, and women in rural communities will be disproportionately affected by state abortion bans and restrictions.

“People who work by the hour, already have children, or live miles from an abortion provider face impossible decisions and often insurmountable obstacles to finding the time, money, and support they need. to access the care they need – the care that is integral to their dignity and fundamental freedom to live their lives on their own terms.

“My colleagues across the aisle will be desperate to change the subject in the hope that no one notices that, if Judge Alito’s draft opinion holds, millions of Americans will lose a fundamental constitutional right.

“Don’t let them get away with this.

“They will try to muddy the waters today by accusing Democrats of bullying the court, as if the wealthy conservative justices about to hand down this ruling have it worse than the women and health care providers who face jail time. if they request or perform an abortion. after the entry into force of this decision.

“They will try to distract you from their ultimate goal: a nationwide abortion ban, no exceptions.

“Republican voices in the media have tried to downplay the consequences of this decision by arguing that the leak itself is the problem, in that it threatens the integrity of the Court. As I said from the start, leakage is a problem, but I will not be lectured on how best to protect democratic institutions from the crowd that cheered the crowds on January 6 last year and continues to perpetuate a crass lie about the last election.

“And as they accuse the donor of undermining democracy, keep in mind the most astonishing aspect of this draft opinion: the words and logic of Judge Alito, used today to undermine to abortion rights, provide a roadmap for the erosion of other fundamental rights, including the rights to marriage, to contraception and to make decisions about the education of our own children.

“Judge Alito’s assurances to the contrary in this draft opinion are cold comfort. He used the same logic to argue against the right to marry in Obergefell, and there’s no reason to believe the same five judges won’t engage in a similar crude exercise of power to override other fundamental rights. if the opportunity arises.

“Ladies and gentlemen, at its core, safe, legal and accessible abortion continues to be fundamental to individual equality, autonomy and personal freedom. The decision to become a parent rests with that individual. We cannot go back.

“Congress must now stand with Americans across the country and refuse to back down.

“Republican leaders have already told us what they want Congress to do. For all their talk of returning power to the states, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has already said that a nationwide ban on abortion would be under consideration if Roe were overruled. And when that happens, living in a blue state won’t save you from their attempt to make your parenting decision away from you. Nationwide means nationwide. nationwide. Without exception means without exception.

“We cannot let this happen. Instead, Congress must act to ensure that every woman, regardless of location, income, race, or any other factor, retains her constitutional right to access abortion. We will fight for legislation at all levels of government to protect women’s health, to protect access to contraception, to protect access to IVF and to protect abortion rights.

“Women should have the freedom to make decisions about their reproductive health without anyone questioning their intellect, morality or honesty.

“I stand with the members of this Committee and the millions of Americans across this country ready to fight for reproductive freedom. I thank our witnesses for being here and I look forward to hearing their testimony.

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