Stefanik, GOP leaders reiterate support for ending abortion rights
Democrats denounce draft Roe opinion
WASHINGTON — Northern New York’s senior elected officials were almost universally disappointed by the news that the Supreme Court may be poised to overturn long-standing case law and end federal abortion protections.
While Republicans decried the leak that sparked the news but lauded the news that abortions could become illegal, Democrats denounced the draft opinion that called for a reversal of Roe v. Wade.
Leaked Supreme Court documents obtained and shared by Politico indicate that five of the nine justices on the nation’s highest court agree with a ruling that would overturn the nearly 50-year-old ruling in Roe v. Wade that found Americans have the Constitutional right to a safe and legal abortion, should they seek it.
The news of the leak was met with disappointment among northern New York’s federal representatives. Republicans, whose party platform has long opposed abortion rights, were disappointed in the rare and significant leak from the Supreme Court. The draft decision published by Politico is part of a secret deliberative process that is almost never revealed to the public.
“Yesterday’s unprecedented leak is an attempt to severely damage the Supreme Court,” said Congresswoman and House Republican Conference Chair Elise M. Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, in a joint statement with House Republican Leader Kevin O. McCarthy, R-Calif. and House Republican Whip Steve J. Scalise, R-La.
The House Republican leadership reiterated their support for ending abortion rights in the U.S., and said this leak of documents was clearly intended to impact the justices decision. While five of the nine seemed to support the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in the leaked documents, it’s only a draft opinion and justices can change their minds before the final decision is published.
“We pray for the resolve of our Justices and for a decision that protects our most basic and precious right, the right to life,” the House Republican leaders said in their statement.
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John G. Roberts, Jr., issued a statement Tuesday morning confirming the authenticity of the leaked documents, and called the leak a “betrayal.” He stressed the draft opinion is a normal and integral part of the Court’s work, and does not represent a finalized decision or the final position of any justice.
“To the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the Court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed,” he said. “The work of the Court will not be affected in any way.”
Justice Roberts said he has directed the Marshal of the Supreme Court to investigate who provided the documents to Politico.
The leak seemed to embolden Democrats to rally in support of a federal law securing abortion access nationwide. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y. pledged that the Senate will take up a vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act soon. That bill would mandate universal access to abortion procedures nationwide up to 24 weeks, and beyond that in cases of rape, incest, a non-viable fetus or if the mother is in danger of dying. It passed the House with no Republican support in September.
While it’s not expected to pass the 60-vote threshold to move past the filibuster, Sen. Schumer said it’s important to hold Senators to a concrete vote on the issue of abortion.
“We will vote on protection a women’s right to choose, and every American is going to see which side every Senator stands on,” he said.
In a joint statement with Speaker of the House Nancy P. Pelosi, Sen. Schumer blasted the Republican-appointed justices on the Supreme Court, accusing them of lying to the Senate for pledging that they would not overturn Roe v. Wade, as many have done during their confirmation hearings.
“Several of these conservative justices, who are in no way accountable to the American people, have lied to the U.S. Senate, ripped up the Constitution and defiled both precedent and the Supreme Court’s reputation, all at the expense of tens of millions of women who could soon be stropped of their bodily autonomy and the Constitutional rights they’ve relied on for half a century,” the joint statement reads.
Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand said in a statement that while the draft opinion may change, it’s time to pass concrete legislation protecting abortion access, and she called on strong steps to do so.
“At the federal level, Congress must enshrine into law the right to an abortion, and Democrats must be willing to eliminate the filibuster to do so,” she said.
Sen. Gillibrand also called for action at the state level — passing abortion rights laws in states where Democrats have control, and getting Democrats who will protect abortion rights into office in states where they do not.
“There is no state where a majority of public opinion supports a federal ban on abortion,” she said. “With this fundamental right in jeopardy, it is incumbent upon states like New York, where abortion is safe and accessible, to open our doors to those seeking care.”
The Democratic candidates for Congress in NY-21, running to oppose Rep. Stefanik, agreed with the state’s federal Democrats, and expressed their support for the Women’s Health Protection Act.
“Women must have the right to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions without interference from the government, and we need federal law to protect that right for every American,” said Matt Castelli, one of two candidates in the NY-21 Democratic primary race.
Matthew F. Putorti, the other candidate in the NY-21 Democratic race, said the Supreme Court’s leaked draft decision is dangerous and appalling, and also called for the passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act.
“The consequences will fall disproportionately on poor women, women of color and women in rural communities where access to healthcare is already limited,” he said.
In New York state, state laws have already been passed to protect access to abortions in line with the guidelines set by the Roe v. Wade decision. In 2019, the legislature passed the Reproductive Health Act, which allows for a woman to terminate a pregnancy up to 24 weeks after conception, or after 24 weeks if the life of the mother is at risk of the fetus is determined to be unable to live after birth.
On Monday, New York Gov. Kathy C. Hochul pledged that New York will always protect the right to an abortion, and will welcome travelers who come to New York for an abortion.
“For anyone who needs access to care, our state will welcome you with open arms,” she said in a statement. “Abortion will always be safe and accessible in New York.”