At a Thursday press conference deriding a leaked draft decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, Democratic Rep. Veronica Escobar warned about the consequences of losing the landmark decision and spoke out against the conservative justices controlling the court.
“In America, my daughter is going to have fewer rights than I did, in 2022,” Escobar said.
If Roe v. Wade were overturned, the El Paso lawmaker said Texans would either have to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, or seek unsafe avenues to terminate pregnancies — or if they had the income, travel outside the state for an abortion.
“But for those women of means who feel like they are safe, just know the Republican playbook is to outlaw abortion in every single state,” Escobar said. “So it is only a matter of time before they’re coming for you as well.”
Escobar also warned that overturning the landmark decision could jeopardize other rights in the country.
“We are now about to embark on a very slippery slope of people’s civil rights in this country, especially around our right to privacy,” Escobar said. “We are, I believe, about to see the unraveling of decades of battles of people fighting for fundamental human and civil rights in this country.”
The concern is shared by advocates and legal experts who say that the legal argument against abortion found in the drafted majority opinion, that the “right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the nation’s history and traditions,” could also apply to other fundamental civil liberties and rights such as same-sex marriage or access to birth control.
President Joe Biden echoed those thoughts at a Wednesday press conference, saying, “this is about a lot more than abortion.”
“What are the next things that are going to be attacked? Because this MAGA crowd is really the most extreme political organization that’s existed in recent American history,” Biden said.
In the majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito, the justice makes clear that the decision would only affect the right to an abortion.
“To ensure that our decision is not misunderstood or mischaracterized, we emphasize that our decision concerns the constitutional right to abortion and no other right,” Alito wrote. “Nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion.”
But Escobar said Alito and the majority’s promise should be taken with a grain of salt since their word is meaningless.
“They have literally shredded any integrity that the Supreme Court had,” Escobar said. “If this draft decision is in fact the ultimate decision, then we have Supreme Court justices who lied to the Senate, who lied to the public, who lied under oath. We already know that one of our Supreme Court justices is closely tied to the insurrection that served to undermine our democracy.”
The press conference was also attended by Dr. Ophra Leyser-Whalen, a sociologist and reproductive health researcher who warned that overturning Roe v. Wade would lead to even more out-of-state travel for abortion care, execterbating existing inequalities.
“Who can afford to travel? Who has the means? Leyser-Whalen said. “Who has reliable transportation to drive across state lines and pay for gas? Who can pay for a plane ticket? Who can afford to take a few days off of work? Who can afford childcare, because the majority of people who get abortions already have children.”
Speaking on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, Xochitl Rodriguez said the nonprofit continues to provide abortions in compliance with Senate Bill 8, the state’s six-week abortion ban.
“Through our navigation services we continue to assist those forced to leave the state with logistical and financial support to the maximum extent possible,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said that abortion bans like Senate Bill 8 do not stop abortions, only safe abortions.
“The message the majority of Americans are sending to our lawmakers and the highest court in this land is clear,” Rodriguez said. “No one has the right to force us to give birth and we will not sit idly by while our freedoms are taken from us.”
Original photo: Elvert Barnes / Wikimedia Commons
Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org