‘This is a crisis’: Politicians dig in on abortion following Supreme Court ruling

Last updated on July 4, 2022

It was clear on Sunday that the Supreme Court decision to overturn decades of abortion precedent has only further cemented Republican and Democratic entrenchment in their positions on the issue.

“I am horrified … that my daughters will have fewer rights than I’ve had virtually my whole life,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” a comment reflective of the emotional response to Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

Friday’s 5-4 ruling from the court’s conservative bloc to reverse Roe v. Wade and other landmark abortion rights cases and clear the way for state governments to regulate or eliminate the practice is likely to ensure that it remains a national issue for the foreseeable future, as well as fuel debates on the future of the Supreme Court. Leaders of both parties are treating the ruling as a turning point in the country’s history that will shape state and local politics for decades — and that has already created a patchwork quilt of abortion policies across the nation.

“The right to choose should not be divvied up amongst states,” said Stacey Abrams, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in Georgia, on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “The sinister practice of taking constitutional rights and allowing each state to decide the quality of your citizenship is wrong. Women deserve bodily autonomy. They deserve the right to make these choices.”

Abrams added that abortion is a decision that ought to be left to pregnant individuals and their medical providers, rather than “a political football where ideology of the leader of a state can determine the quality of life for a woman and her ability to make the choices she needs.”

The Supreme Court ruling has, in particular, animated progressives who view Democrats’ response to date as insufficient and uninspired.

“The president and the Democratic Party need to come to terms with, is that this is not just a crisis of Roe — this is a crisis of our democracy,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said the Supreme Court has “lost legitimacy” with its momentous decisions on abortion and other high-profile cases under the conservative majority, and she argued that expanding the bench was a necessary corrective.

“We’ve done it before; we need to do it again,” Warren said on ABC’s “This Week.”

By contrast, conservatives have hailed the decision as a victory for the “pro-life movement” and its half-century campaign against abortion.

“It’s satisfying to know that through the constitutional process you can make a difference,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on “Fox News Sunday” in response to the overturning of the 1973 landmark decision. “When Roe came out, we didn’t burn down the Capitol as conservatives. We didn’t go to liberal justices’ homes and try to intimidate them.”

Even before the ruling was officially handed down, both camps had been gauging to what degree abortion would be an animating issue for voters heading into November’s elections and whether it would upend political dynamics that were trending decidedly against Democrats in recent months.

“This was won through the ballot box by conservatives, and we’re not gonna let liberals intimidate the rule-of-law system to take it away from us,” Graham said.

One Republican lawmaker garnered condemnation for calling the Supreme Court’s decision a “historic victory for white life” during a rally on Saturday with former President Donald Trump.

“President Trump, on behalf of all the MAGA patriots in America, I want to thank you for the historic victory for white life in the Supreme Court yesterday,” said Rep. Mary Miller (R-Ill.), who is facing fellow GOP Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) because of redistricting.

A spokesperson for Miller has said she misspoke while reading from her prepared remarks and intended to say “right to life.”

In states that have moved to restrict — or prohibit — abortions, the issue is likely to continue percolating as Republican lawmakers explore other ways to crack down on the procedure or things related to it.

For instance, several states are looking at ways of preventing people from using telemedicine to access abortion drugs or traveling to another state to obtain a legal abortion.

“I don’t believe that telemedicine abortions are safe for individuals, for women, to conduct at home,” South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”

And federally, former Vice President Mike Pence has called for a national ban on abortion should Republicans regain control of Washington, a sentiment that has been echoed by some congressional Republicans, including Reps. Christopher Smith of New Jersey and Ann Wagner of Missouri. All of them are looking ahead in the hopes that Republicans will control the House and Senate after the midterms.

Other Republicans wanted the issue to remain one that will be determined at the state level.

“I don’t believe that we ought to go back to saying there ought to be a national law that’s passed,” said Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We fought for 50 years to have this returned to the states. We’ve won that battle. It’s back to the states. Let’s let it be resolved there.”

In the meantime, states that protect abortion rights are taking steps to make accessing those services easier — including anticipating an uptick in visitors from parts of the country where abortion will no longer be available.

A CBS News/YouGov poll conducted after the Supreme Court decision found that nearly 60 percent of those surveyed disapproved of the ruling, including more than two-thirds of women. More than half also believe the case was “a step backward for America,” compared with 31 percent who said it was “a step forward.”

President Joe Biden sought to tap into that sentiment in a speech Friday, saying that “voters need to make their voices heard.”

“This fall, Roe is on the ballot. Personal freedoms are on the ballot. The right to privacy, liberty, equality — they’re all on the ballot,” he said.

And the decision was a shock wave that sent reverberations well beyond the United States.

Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, said he regretted “what seems to be a backward step,” when asked about the case.

“The Roe v. Wade judgment, when it came out, was of huge importance psychologically for people around the world, and it spoke of the advancement of the rights of women,” Johnson said Sunday in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”