Senate Republicans set to seize on Supreme Court’s abortion opening

The path to abortion rights runs through the Senate — and Republicans know it

Published June 29, 2024 5:45AM (EDT)

Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas (R) and Josh Hawley, R-Mo., are seen outside the Senate chamber on Tuesday, May 3, 2022. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas (R) and Josh Hawley, R-Mo., are seen outside the Senate chamber on Tuesday, May 3, 2022. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

For 50 years, Americans counted on Roe v. Wade to protect not only the right to abortion, but the ability to receive lifesaving care for miscarriages and the chance to build families through fertility care. Roe was never perfect. For too many, it was a right in name only – a right that slipped increasingly out of reach as Republicans chipped away at abortion access in states across the country. Then, two years ago, anti-abortion Supreme Court justices handpicked by Donald Trump overturned Roe once and for all.

Today, forty percent of women of reproductive age live in a state with an abortion ban. Every day, there’s another story of the chaos and cruelty these bans have caused – like the story of Ryan Hamilton, a father in Texas who recounted the horror of finding his wife unconscious and bleeding on their bathroom floor because she had been denied care for a miscarriage. Just as heartbreaking is the knowledge that an entire generation of young people have lost the right to determine their own lives and futures. 

Donald Trump has bragged about being “proudly the person responsible” for ending Roe v. Wade. Make no mistake: He bears responsibility for flipping the balance of the Court, and for everything that has happened as a result. But Trump isn’t alone. Every mainstream Republican candidate running for a seat in the United States Senate would be a vote for a national abortion ban. And they won’t stop there. In the last month alone, Republican senators have blocked Democratic legislation to protect access to birth control and IVF. These positions are deeply unpopular and disqualifying to voters. So just like Donald Trump, their only hope of getting elected is to shamelessly lie and hide their records. We can’t let that happen. 

Just a few weeks ago, Florida Senator Rick Scott released a campaign ad saying, "You can count on this grandpa to always protect IVF." The only problem? The day before, he voted against the Right to IVF Act, which would have done just that. This fall, voters in Florida have the chance to vote to protect abortion rights – and elect Senator Scott’s opponent, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who believes decisions about pregnancy should be made by families and doctors, not politicians. 

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And then there’s Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who introduced legislation for a national abortion ban. Texas women have died because of abortion bans in Senator Cruz’s home state. Now, he wants to end reproductive freedom for Californians, Michiganders, and New Yorkers. That’s why it’s so crucial to support Colin Allred, who has vowed he’ll never stop fighting to repair the damage abortion bans have caused. 

The list goes on and on: Republican candidates Dave McCormick in Pennsylvania, Tim Sheehy in Montana, Sam Brown in Nevada, and Bernie Moreno in Ohio all have one thing in common: They oppose abortion rights. During his unsuccessful 2022 run, McCormick backed an abortion ban with zero exceptions for rape or incest. Sheehy also supports a federal abortion ban. Brown said, “Abortion is not an issue of choice. It is an issue of life and I am proudly pro-life.” Moreno doesn’t believe in any exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the mother. Each of their opponents – Senators Bob Casey, Jon Tester, Jacky Rosen, and Sherrod Brown – has a long track record of fighting to protect access to abortion.

In state after state - Kansas, Michigan, California, Ohio, Vermont, and Kentucky - when voters have had the chance to weigh in on this issue, they’ve sent a powerful message: Keep politicians out of our medical care. They used their power to either protect abortion access or defeat anti-abortion rights efforts and they won. Every single time.

This fall, voters will have the chance to do the same in states across the country. We have to take on those fights and win – and we can’t stop there. To protect and expand reproductive rights, we need to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris – and we need a Democratic U.S. Senate and U.S. House.

Millions of Americans are counting on us to suit up and head to the polls: Teenage sexual assault survivors in Louisiana, pregnant women enduring non-viable pregnancies in Alabama, and people in Mississippi who aren’t ready to be parents. Our votes will be the difference between repairing the damage caused by overturning Roe or allowing a national abortion ban to be signed into law by President Trump. The good news is, as voters have proven again and again, when we organize and vote together, there is no stopping us.

By Cecile Richards

Cecile Richards is the co-chair of American Bridge 21st Century, the former president of Planned Parenthood, and a co-founder of Charley — a private and secure chatbot that helps people in every ZIP Code understand their abortion options.

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Abortion Ban Commentary Dobbs Gop Ivf Reproductive Rights Republicans Roe V. Wade Senate Supreme Court Trump