News Abortion

Anti-Choice Groups: Block All Obama Supreme Court Nominees

Teddy Wilson

President Obama said he would move forward and name a replacement for Scalia’s vacant seat on the Supreme Court in “due time.”

Read more of our articles on Justice Antonin Scalia’s potential successor here.

The country’s most prominent anti-choice organizations have demanded that Senate Republicans stymie any and all nominees to fill the vacant seat of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

At least one influential anti-choice group has obliquely referenced conspiracy theories that Scalia didn’t die of natural causes, but was killed.

Scalia, who was a deeply religious Catholic, stridently opposed reproductive rights. Anti-choice groups have joined Republican leaders both in praising Scalia and calling for his seat on the Court to be filled only after November’s presidential election.

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“With the passing of the esteemed Justice Scalia, America stands at a crossroads. Will she choose the path of fascism or freedom? We are just one Obama appointee away from a totalitarian government,” Troy Newman, president of the radical anti-choice group Operation Rescue, said in a statement Monday.

Newman urged the Republican-controlled Senate to block any of Obama’s Supreme Court nominees.

“Two years ago, the GOP promised the American people that, if elected, they would thwart Obama’s radical leftist agenda. This is the GOP’s moment. Will it shine as a light for liberty in this dark moment or will that light be extinguished by political appeasement?” said Newman, who was detained by Australian authorities in October after a legislator there expressed concern that Newman would contribute to the “harassment and intimidation” of people seeking abortion care.

The Operation Rescue statement alluded to allegations made by conspiracy theorists that Scalia’s death was part of a nefarious plot, and called for “a full inquiry into Scalia’s death.” The group claimed an investigation is necessary to resolve “unanswered questions regarding his passing.”

Charmaine Yoest, president and CEO of Americans United for Life (AUL), released a statement Saturday calling Scalia’s death “a tragic loss for our country” and saying that the jurist was an “unparalleled intellectual force, who valued the Constitution over the whims of popular culture.”

AUL is an anti-choice organization that has helped lawmakers in Republican-controlled state legislatures pass hundreds of laws to restrict reproductive rights.

AUL takes credit for provisions in the Texas anti-choice law HB 2, which passed in 2013 and is now at the center of one of the most pivotal cases concerning reproductive rights in decades.

Yoest called for the Senate to confirm Scalia’s replacement after November’s election. “His loss is tragic, and we hope that when it comes time for the Senate to vote on his replacement, that a worthy successor who can pick up his banner can be found after the election,” Yoest said.

Alan Sears, president of the anti-choice legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom, said in a statement that it is “unlikely that a new justice will be installed prior to the election of our next president.”

In a hyper partisan political climate, with both parties embroiled in competitive presidential primaries and the Supreme Court set to hear some of its most high-profile and high-stakes cases in years, the stage is set for a dramatic showdown.

President Obama announced Sunday night that he would move forward with his “constitutional responsibilities” and name a replacement for Scalia’s vacant seat on the court in “due time.”

“There will be plenty of time for me to do so, and for the Senate to fulfill its responsibility to give that person a fair hearing and a timely vote,” Obama said.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) released a statement after Scalia’s death Saturday in which he praised Scalia as an “unwavering champion of a timeless document” who was a “giant of American jurisprudence.” McConnell also called for Scalia’s seat on the court to be filled after the presidential election.

“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President,” McConnell said.

Democrats have been quick to challenge Republicans’ suggestions that Obama should not nominate a replacement for Scalia, and have been sharply critical of the proposition of Senate Republicans blocking any nomination by the president.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) released a statement saying “the President can and should send the Senate a nominee right away.” Reid said that the Senate has a “responsibility to fill vacancies as soon as possible” and said that it would be “unprecedented in recent history” for the Supreme Court seat to be vacant for a year.

“Failing to fill this vacancy would be a shameful abdication of one of the Senate’s most essential Constitutional responsibilities,” Reid said.

Of the candidates on stage at the Republican presidential debate Saturday night in South Carolina, five of six said the president should either not nominate a justice or the Senate should block any nominee.

Jeb Bush said that the president has “has every right” to nominate a new justice, but said that he doesn’t believe that Obama will present the Senate with a “consensus” nominee.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who called Scalia an “American hero” in a post on Twitter, said during the debate that the Senate should “stand strong” against any nomination. “We’re not going to give up the U.S. Supreme Court for a generation by allowing Barack Obama to make one more liberal appointee.”

“I think it’s up to Mitch McConnell and everybody to stop it. It’s called delay, delay, delay,” Donald Trump said during the debate.

News Politics

NARAL President Tells Her Abortion Story at the Democratic National Convention

Ally Boguhn

Though reproductive rights and health have been discussed by both Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) while on the campaign trail, Democrats have come under fire for failing to ask about abortion care during the party’s debates.

Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, told the story of her abortion on the stage of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) Wednesday evening in Philadelphia.

“Texas women are tough. We approach challenges with clear eyes and full hearts. To succeed in life, all we need are the tools, the trust, and the chance to chart our own path,” Hogue told the crowd on the third night of the party’s convention. “I was fortunate enough to have these things when I found out I was pregnant years ago. I wanted a family, but it was the wrong time.”

“I made the decision that was best for me — to have an abortion — and to get compassionate care at a clinic in my own community,” she continued. “Now, years later, my husband and I are parents to two incredible children.”

Hogue noted that her experience is similar to those of women nationwide.

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“About one in three American women have abortions by the age of 45, and the majority are mothers just trying to take care of the families they already have,” she said. “You see, it’s not as simple as bad girls get abortions and good girls have families. We are the same women at different times in our lives — each making decisions that are the best for us.”

As reported by Yahoo News, “Asked if she was the first to have spoken at a Democratic National Convention about having had an abortion for reasons other than a medical crisis, Hogue replied, ‘As far as I know.'”

Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards on Tuesday night was the first speaker at the DNC in Philadelphia to say the word “abortion” on stage, according to Vox’s Emily Crockett. 

Richards’ use of the word abortion was deliberate, and saying the word helps address the stigma that surrounds it, Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s Vice President of Communication Mary Alice Carter said in an interview with ThinkProgress. 

“When we talk about reproductive health, we talk about the full range of reproductive health, and that includes access to abortion. So we’re very deliberate in saying we stand up for a woman’s right to access an abortion,” Carter said.

“There is so much stigma around abortion and so many people that sit in shame and don’t talk about their abortion, and so it’s very important to have the head of Planned Parenthood say ‘abortion,’ it’s very important for any woman who’s had an abortion to say ‘abortion,’ and it’s important for us to start sharing those stories and start bringing it out of the shadows and recognizing that it’s a normal experience,” she added.

Though reproductive rights and health have been discussed by both Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) while on the campaign trail, Democrats have come under fire for failing to ask about abortion care during the party’s debates. In April, Clinton called out moderators for failing to ask “about a woman’s right to make her own decisions about reproductive health care” over the course of eight debates—though she did not use the term abortion in her condemnation.

News Politics

Tim Kaine Changes Position on Federal Funding for Abortion Care

Ally Boguhn

The Obama administration, however, has not signaled support for rolling back the Hyde Amendment's ban on federal funding for abortion care.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), the Democratic Party’s vice presidential candidate, has promised to stand with nominee Hillary Clinton in opposing the Hyde Amendment, a ban on federal funding for abortion care.

Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, told CNN’s State of the Union Sunday that Kaine “has said that he will stand with Secretary Clinton to defend a woman’s right to choose, to repeal the Hyde amendment,” according to the network’s transcript.

“Voters can be 100 percent confident that Tim Kaine is going to fight to protect a woman’s right to choose,” Mook said.

The commitment to opposing Hyde was “made privately,” Clinton spokesperson Jesse Ferguson later clarified to CNN’s Edward Mejia Davis.

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Kaine’s stated support for ending the federal ban on abortion funding is a reversal on the issue for the Virginia senator. Kaine this month told the Weekly Standard  that he had not “been informed” that this year’s Democratic Party platform included a call for repealing the Hyde Amendment. He said he has “traditionally been a supporter of the Hyde amendment.”

Repealing the Hyde Amendment has been an issue for Democrats on the campaign trail this election cycle. Speaking at a campaign rally in New Hampshire in January, Clinton denounced Hyde, noting that it made it “harder for low-income women to exercise their full rights.”

Clinton called the federal ban on abortion funding “hard to justify” when asked about it later that month at the Brown and Black Presidential Forum, adding that “the full range of reproductive health rights that women should have includes access to safe and legal abortion.”

Clinton’s campaign told Rewire during her 2008 run for president that she “does not support the Hyde amendment.”

The Democratic Party on Monday codified its commitment to opposing Hyde, as well as the Helms Amendment’s ban on foreign assistance funds being used for abortion care. 

The Obama administration, however, has not signaled support for rolling back Hyde’s ban on federal funding for abortion care.

When asked about whether the president supported the repeal of Hyde during the White House press briefing Tuesday, Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said he did not “believe we have changed our position on the Hyde Amendment.”

When pushed by a reporter to address if the administration is “not necessarily on board” with the Democratic platform’s call to repeal Hyde, Schultz said that the administration has “a longstanding view on this and I don’t have any changes in our position to announce today.”