On July 9, Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh as his Supreme Court pick following Anthony Kennedy’s retirement. The nomination threatens the fate of Roe v. Wade, and if you believe Trump’s rhetoric from a 2016 debate, women should be worried.
During the third debate in the 2016 presidential race, Trump and Hillary Clinton were asked about abortion. The debate moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump if he wanted the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that legalized safe abortion. Trump did want it overturned. He said, “If we put another two or perhaps three justices on, that will happen,” Trump said. “And that will happen automatically, in my opinion, because I’m putting pro-life justices on the court.”
The candidates were then asked about late term abortion and Trump proceeded to attack Clinton for her vote against banning late-term abortions. He said,
I think it’s terrible, if you go with what Hillary is saying, in the ninth month you can take the baby, and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby. Based on what she’s saying, and based on where she’s going and where she’s been, you can take the baby, and rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month, only the final day. And that’s not acceptable.
This would have been a great attack except:
WHEN YOU RIP OUT A BABY ON THE LAST DAY OF PREGNANCY IT'S JUST CALLED CHILDBIRTH #debate— Jenny Lester (@TheJennyLester) October 20, 2016
Despite Trump’s lack of understanding when it comes to pregnancy, his point was clear: Trump will appoint Supreme Court Justices that overturn Roe v. Wade.
In January of 2017, Trump appointed Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, tightening the conservative grip on the fate of legal abortion. Now, Kavanaugh waits in the wings for his confirmation hearing and the nation holds its breath. Kavanaugh hasn’t openly stated that he opposes abortion but said, “If confirmed to the DC Circuit, I would follow Roe v. Wade faithfully and fully. That would be binding precedent of the court. It has been decided by the Supreme Court.”
However, one moment in Kavanaugh’s history as a judge reveals his true feelings on abortion and Roe v. Wade. Last October in the DC Circuit, Kavanaugh wrote a dissent opinion against the ruling that a detained migrant teenager had the right to an abortion. In his dissent, Kavanaugh said called the majority vote “a radical extension of the Supreme Court’s abortion jurisprudence.” He went on to say, “The Government has permissible interests in favoring fetal life, protecting the best interests of a minor, and refraining from facilitating abortion.” That’s all the information we need to determine how Kavanaugh will vote on Roe v. Wade if he is confirmed.
After Trump’s initial warning in the 2016 presidential debate, his comments on abortion became veiled in political rhetoric but his intentions remained clear. In an early July interview with Fox News, Trump said he would not be asking potential Supreme Court Nominees their stances on Roe v. Wade because it would be frowned upon. However, he went on to back up his initial statements:
Maybe someday it will be to the states,” he said. “You never know how that’s going to turn out. That’s a very complex question. The Roe v. Wade is probably the one that people are talking about in terms of having an effect, but we’ll see what happens. But it could very well end up with states at some point.
Whether or not Kavanaugh will overturn Roe v. Wade is no longer a question. Kavanaugh’s previous comments on abortion and Trump’s statements on Supreme Court nominees prove that Kavanaugh will overturn a woman’s right to a safe and legal abortion. Democrats are scrambling to postpone Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing until after midterms in hopes that Republicans will no longer hold the majority. The idea of court packing has even been tossed around among Democrats for the first time since Franklin D. Roosevelt. It’s a code red situation, women and pro-choice advocates should be worried.