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Supreme Court Comes Within One Vote of Fulfilling Trump and Senate Republicans' Goal of Dismantling Abortion Access

With 16 abortion cases one step from the Supreme Court, and a president and Senate bent on packing the courts, everything is on the line in November

Washington, DC — Today, the Supreme Court ruled, in a 5-4 decision, to strike down a medically unnecessary Louisiana abortion restriction, falling just one vote short of opening the floodgates to an onslaught of legislation that could make safe, legal abortion in America a right in name only. Although we have a victory in this one case, the attacks on our health care are far from over. 

The attacks from politicians on people’s access to abortion are felt the most by those who already face barriers to care due to systemic racism, discrimination and inequality — those with low incomes, Black people and other people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and people at the intersection of these idenitities. For many of these people, abortion is already virtually out of reach. Had the court allowed the state’s restriction to stand, it only would have become worse. More than 850,000 women of reproductive age in Louisiana — a quarter of whom are Black — would find abortion virtually inaccesible.

Most worrisome, both of Donald Trump's Supreme Court appointees, Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, authored dissents making clear they would have upheld Louisiana's medically unnecessary abortion restriction, decimating access — just as Trump hoped when he pledged to only appoint justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade. We can't afford another four years of Donald Trump choosing Supreme Court justices and a Senate who approves them. If that happens, decisions like today’s that protect abortion access by a one-vote margin could be a thing of the past.

While this harmful law was struck down today, abortion access in America is still gravely at risk, thanks to senators like Susan Collins (R-ME), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Steve Daines (R-MT), Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Cory Gardner (R-CO), who put their party ahead of the health care of their constituents by voting to confirm Trump nominees with records hostile to reproductive health care. Just last week, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) led a Senate Republican majority in confirming Trump's 200th lifetime judicial appointment.

Jenny Lawson, executive director, Planned Parenthood Votes: 

“It’s never been more clear that this November, everything is on the line. Abortion access is not further decimated in Louisiana — for now — but that’s only because Donald Trump's two Supreme Court appointees, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, didn’t get their way. With a president and Senate bent on packing the courts with judges hostile to reproductive health, we know our rights and health will continue to be at risk. There are 16 abortion cases just one step from the Supreme Court, and politicians have doubled down on their attempts to interfere with our ability to control our own bodies, lives, and futures. Now more than ever, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread and as the country confronts the public health crisis that racism itself presents, people need more access to health care — not to have that health care whittled away by politicians and the judges they confirm. Enough is enough. This November, politicians will have to answer for their attacks on our care at the ballot box."

Access to safe, legal abortion has never been more popular than it is today, with 77% of Americans in support. But Trump and his Senate allies have made it clear that rushing through judicial nominees who pose a threat to our health care and civil rights is their top priority — even amid a global health pandemic. From awarding lifetime positions to 200 judges — many of whom have records hostile to our reproductive rights and health — to supporting abortion bans, many vulnerable politicians up for re-election in November have put access to safe, legal abortion dangerously at risk.

  • President Donald Trump has done everything in his power to overturn Roe v. Wade, agreeing it was “wrongly decided” and pledging to nominate only Supreme Court justices who he believed would dismantle the constitutional protections for abortion access. Trump put two justices on the Supreme Court with records hostile to reproductive health, jeopardized access to affordable birth control and other reproductive health care with the Title X and global gag rules, called for an abortion ban on the campaign trail, and said “there has to be some form of punishment” for women who have abortions — to name just a few of the attacks.

  • Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) ignored the calls of Mainers and instead stood with Mitch McConnell when she voted for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, putting Roe v. Wade and the constitutional right to safe and legal abortion at risk. She has voted to confirm more than 175 Trump nominees over the past three years.

  • Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) put the protections guaranteed by Roe v. Wade at risk when he voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, even though 59% of his constituents think abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

  • Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) McSally praised Kavanaugh as “a highly qualified nominee,” in spite of serious concerns about his credibility and warning signs that Kavanaugh would be a staunch opponent of reproductive rights as a justice.

  • John James, a challenger candidate running for U.S. Senate in Michigan, pledged to “fight until we end abortion” and said he would support Roe v. Wade being overturned.

  • Sens. Thom Tillis (R-NC), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Steve Daines (R-MT), and John Cornyn (R-TX) joined more than 200 politicians in filing an amicus brief in this very court case urging the Supreme Court to consider overturning the right to safe and legal abortion established in Roe v. Wade.

  • Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), Georgia’s newly-sworn in U.S. senator, cosponsored three anti-abortion bills as one of her first acts in office.

  • Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) introduced a bill at the beginning of the year called the “Abortion is Not Healthcare Act,” a dangerous piece of legislation intended to further stigmatize abortion and make it as costly as possible.

From now until November, Planned Parenthood advocacy and political organizations will be fighting to elect health care champions who have pledged to protect safe, legal abortion, including:

  • Joe Biden has proven his commitment to protecting our health care and expanding our reproductive rights, including abortion. Biden has committed to nominating judges who will uphold Roe v. Wade, asserting that he believes we "must codify Roe into law and fight back against any state laws that violate it.”

  • Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) has vowed to always fight attempts to overturn Roe v. Wade, and is one of our nation’s fiercest champions for health care and reproductive rights. 

  • Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) has always been a champion for abortion access, and believes “the decision to seek an abortion is a deeply personal choice that should be made by a woman with the advice of her doctor.”

  • Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) is on the frontlines every day to protect Minnesotans’ health care and beat back attacks on abortion access, and raised the alarm about Trump's promises to "nominate judges who would, as he said, 'automatically' overturn Roe v. Wade."

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Planned Parenthood Votes is an independent expenditure political committee registered with the Federal Election Commission.