As the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Wednesday in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, a case concerning a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks, members of Congress drew battle lines over the possibility of an end to Roe v. Wade.
In its suit, Mississippi directly asked the high court to reconsider its landmark rulings in both Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which some activists say could prompt the court to reverse or scale back those decisions.
GOP SENATORS BACK MISSISSIPPI ABORTION LAW AHEAD OF LANDMARK SUPREME COURT CASE
Members of Congress celebrated or sounded the alarm on the possibility, along party lines.
“Roe is in play,” Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley told reporters on a press call Wednesday, arguing that revising or rescinding Supreme Court precedent on abortion would “alter our politics significantly.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the court “has the opportunity and responsibility to honor the Constitution, the law, and this basic truth: Every woman has the constitutional right to basic reproductive healthcare.”
The California Democrat argued the Mississippi law is “part of a nationwide assault against women’s freedoms, targeting in particular women of color and women from low-income communities, [and] is brazenly unconstitutional and designed to destroy Roe v. Wade.”
“The constitutional right to an abortion has been repeatedly affirmed, and any failure to fully strike down the Mississippi ban would seriously erode the legitimacy of the court, as the court itself warned in its ruling in Casey, and question its commitment to the rule of law itself,” Pelosi said.
But a group of Republican women in the Senate, including Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, applauded the law and the possibility of a reversal of Roe.
The #SCOTUS is hearing oral arguments for DobbsvJWHO case right now. This is a momentous occasion, for not only my home state of MS but for our entire nation. I'll be on the Supreme Court steps this morning praying for all those defending the unborn. #EmpowerWomenPromoteLife pic.twitter.com/VzPGJdPI7D— U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (@SenHydeSmith) December 1, 2021
“In taking up Mississippi’s pro-life law, the court has a chance to reconsider our misguided abortion jurisprudence,” Hyde-Smith said. “This gives us a chance to overturn Roe v. Wade.”
In response to the case, the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus took to Twitter to push for passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act, a bill that would block many state-level abortion restrictions. The legislation was passed by the House earlier this year.
Let’s be clear: SCOTUS is considering a case that challenges the core of Roe v. Wade. We cannot go back. The House has already passed #WHPA – legislation to enshrine the right to abortion access in law – now the Senate must act! #AbortionIsEssential pic.twitter.com/YE4SElzLN0— Pro Choice Caucus (@ProChoiceCaucus) December 1, 2021
The legislation lacks the votes to pass the Senate, but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted that the upper chamber will vote on the bill.
Abortion is a fundamental right.— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) December 1, 2021
We're rallying at SCOTUS because they’re hearing arguments in a case that's perhaps the greatest threat to Roe v Wade in a generation.
The Senate will vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act to protect abortion rights.https://t.co/VaLqWJC1LN
The White House previously said President Joe Biden would sign it into law should it reach his desk.
Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Ed Markey took things a step further, arguing that in response to the possibility of a reversal of Roe, the Senate “must act immediately, including abolishing the filibuster if necessary, to pass federal legislation that protects millions of Americans’ access to legal abortion care, lifts dangerous bans like Mississippi’s, and removes unnecessary limits on reproductive freedom.”
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He also renewed his call to add additional justices to the high court.
“Ultimately, to remove dangerous partisanship and restore balance, we must expand the U.S. Supreme Court,” Markey said.