With conservative members of the U.S. Supreme Court indicating they are ready to undermine or even repeal Roe v. Wade, Sen. Amy Klobuchar has offered up a suggestion to protect the longstanding abortion rights established by the decision: Make it law.
The Minnesota senator, speaking on Meet the Press with Chuck Todd, said the conservative justices during last Wednesday's oral arguments signaled they are "clearly heading toward overturning Roe." Making the argument that SCOTUS isn't following society's lead (polls show the majority of Americans support upholding Roe v. Wade, with few in favor of overturning it), the Democratic senator said it may be time for Congress to step in.
"The answer may well be doing it through the political process now," the senator said. "I don't think that's the right thing to do, but it may be the way to do it. And I think the best way to do it is not a patchwork of state laws, but to put it, codify Roe v. Wade, put it into law."
Here's the segment:
Roe v. Wade is a landmark legal decision from 1973, in which the U.S. Supreme Court, by a 7-2 margin, struck down a Texas law that had banned abortions unless the mother's life was at risk. At the same time, the justices ruled states could not outlaw abortion before "viability" — the point where the fetus would likely survive outside of the womb.
Essentially, the right to an abortion before viability was protected by the U.S. Constitution.
Last week, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks, which is pre-viability. During those arguments all six of the conservative justices indicated they were open to significantly weakening or outright overturning Roe v. Wade.
"Fifty years of precedent ... 50 years of decisions and court decisions, part of the very fabric of women's existence in this country," Klobuchar said Sunday. "This is how our country protected rights. And now they're willing to just flip it on its head."
Klobuchar said some pro-choice Republicans have indicated to her they would be for codifying the Roe v. Wade abortion protections into federal law. However, the senator admitted there likely wouldn't be the 60 votes needed in the senate to avoid a filibuster.
Asked about potentially changing the filibuster rules in response, Klobuchar said the Democratic Party is focused on the Freedom to Vote Act first and foremost.
In most cases, here in Minnesota a patient has to undergo state-directed counseling, then wait 24 hours, before an abortion is done, according to the Guttmacher Institute. But after viability, an abortion can only be done if the mother's life is endangered, Robbinsdale Women's Center says. That's at about 23 weeks.
According to the Star Tribune, a state supreme court case from 1995 determined people in Minnesota have a constitutional right to abortion.