Reproductive rights are essential freedoms, and while the Supreme Court’s decision to reverse Roe v. Wade is not yet official, reports of this likely outcome underscore the fragility of protections for reproductive rights in America. Fifty years of settled law stands to be upended, constituting the most direct and dangerous affront to women's rights in several generations.
Until now, we have depended on court rulings rather than federal law to ensure the exercise of reproductive rights. If they are to be preserved, it is more clear than ever that they must be codified into federal law.
Democrats in Washington must pass legislation guaranteeing the continued existence of reproductive rights. The U.S. House of Representatives has already passed the Women’s Health Protection Act in an effort to do so. If Roe v. Wade is indeed overturned, Senate Democrats (and hopefully some moderate Republicans) must do the same, by moving to bypass the filibuster.
Some will say that for Democrats to change Senate rules to allow this critical legislation to move forward with a simple majority is using the “nuclear option.” When it comes to changing the rules, Republicans have become experts, and it’s important for us to remember our history on this matter. In 2016, when Senate Republicans stole a Supreme Court seat by unprecedentedly ignoring Merrick Garland’s nomination, they modified and flouted Senate norms and practices dating back to the Civil War. In blockading Garland’s nomination, the Republicans “went nuclear” by smashing what were once fixed procedural standards in the Senate. Republican Supreme Court appointees who were placed on the bench have likewise “gone nuclear” by lying to the American people and Senators with assurances that Roe v. Wade was settled law.
This is unacceptable, and we as a nation must stop sitting on our hands and watching idly as Republicans do everything in their power to attack women’s rights. Democrats must do whatever is necessary to protect them.
Forcing women to remain pregnant when they do not want to be is harmful to parents and ultimately detrimental to children. It is also economically unjust as restrictions on reproductive freedom are sure to be felt disproportionately by women who earn less. Women without means will either be forced to involuntarily bring unwanted children into unfavorable economic situations or seek illegal, unsafe options available to them from untrained, unlicensed providers. Let’s be clear: banning abortions will not stop abortions. It will, however, significantly increase mortality rates among pregnant women.
In Florida, Republican state legislators passed a bill which has now been signed into law banning all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy without exceptions for rape, incest, or human trafficking. This means that if a woman is raped, she will be forced to deliver her rapist’s child.
If Roe is overturned and Congress does not codify reproductive rights into law, Florida Republicans will outright ban all abortion as soon as they’re able. If Republicans take control of Congress and win the presidency in upcoming elections, they will immediately eliminate the filibuster and ban reproductive rights nationwide.
At this moment, Democrats control the House, Senate and the White House. Our opportunity to codify reproductive rights into federal law is right now. If we don’t act, Republicans will.
Broward County Commissioner Jared Moskowitz is running to succeed U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch in District 23.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Candidate: Codify Roe into law to preserve abortion rights