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“It’s a Very Scary Time for Women”: Cecile Richards on Brett Kavanaugh and the Future of Roe v. Wade

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President Trump has nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill Anthony Kennedy’s seat on the Supreme Court. While running for president, Trump openly vowed to only nominate justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade. Last year, Judge Brett Kavanaugh ruled against an undocumented teenager who sought to have an abortion while in federal detention. He said allowing the abortion would make the government “complicit” in something that is morally objectionable. For more, we speak with Cecile Richards, former president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: As we continue our discussion on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, we’re joined by four guests. David Cole is the legal director of the American Civil liberties Union. Cecile Richards is former president of Planned Parenthood. Rachel Tiven, CEO of Lambda Legal, the nation’s oldest LGBTQ legal organization. And Fatima Goss Graves, president of the National Women’s Law Center. Cecile Richards, I’d like to begin with you. Your reaction to the nomination of President Trump last night?

CECILE RICHARDS: Well, I think this is a nomination that we’ve all been dreading. We know that Roe v. Wade hangs by one vote on the Supreme Court. And there are more than a dozen cases that are ready to come to the Supreme Court that would restrict reproductive rights. And it’s interesting. I mean, not only, obviously, this is a nomination that was rubber-stamped by the Federalist Society, that’s committed to overturning Roe, but I think the thing that’s important to understand about Judge Kavanaugh is it’s far beyond abortion rights. I mean, he has actually taken a position that bosses should be able to determine whether or not their employees get birth control, based on their own personal points of view. He obviously disagreed with a finding of the D.C. Circuit Court that the Affordable Care Act was—could go forward. And I think the threats to women’s health and women’s rights are profound, everything from not only abortion access, birth control access, but even the protection that we have now for folks with pre-existing conditions. So, this is a very extreme appointment. And I think you’re going to see folks coming out all across the country.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go back to President Trump, that famous debate, October 2016, that was moderated by Chris Wallace.

CHRIS WALLACE: Do you want the court, including the justices that you will name, to overturn Roe v. Wade, which includes—in fact, states—a woman’s right to abortion?

DONALD TRUMP: If we put another two or perhaps three justices on, that’s really what’s going to be—that will happen. And that’ll happen automatically, in my opinion, because I am putting pro-life justices on the court. I will say this: It will go back to the states, and the states will then make a determination.

AMY GOODMAN: So, President Trump has clearly said, when asked whether he wants to overturn Roe v. Wade, he’s not going to ask these nominees, these candidates he has, about Roe v. Wade. But what exactly does it mean? I mean, he made this promise, very clearly, “We’re going to overturn Roe v. Wade and it will go back to the states.” What does this mean, Cecile Richards?

CECILE RICHARDS: Well, I mean, obviously, what it means, or what it potentially means, is that then states across the country, it will depend on your state legislature, your governor, whether or not abortion is legal or not. And I think one of the things that’s really important to remember, Amy, is that Roe v. Wade didn’t create the idea of abortion. Abortion existed before it was legal. It was simply unsafe, and young, healthy women died routinely in emergency rooms across this country. I still meet doctors who can tell me they remember doing their residencies and their rotations, seeing women die. So, the point is now, I think, what the president is saying is we’re going to actually now say that women may be safe in some states, but in a lot of states they won’t be. My home state of Texas, where they actually have basically tried to outlaw abortion almost completely, we’re going to go back to a day in which women had to go across the border or take things into their own hands. It’s a very scary time for women.

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ACLU’s David Cole on the Critical Questions Lawmakers Need to Ask Judge Brett Kavanaugh

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