Nearly 900 State Legislators Express Support for Abortion Rights as Supreme Court Decides Future of Roe v. Wade
JACKSON, Mississippi and Washington, D.C. On Monday, State Innovation Exchange’s Reproductive Freedom Leadership Council — a network of state legislators working to advance reproductive health, rights, and justice — filed an amicus brief in support of legal abortion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court case likely to decide the future of reproductive freedom in the United States. The brief, signed by 896 state legislators from 45 states, represents the strongest showing ever recorded of state legislators supporting legal abortion nationwide.
The Mississippi law at the heart of the case banned abortion services after 15 weeks of pregnancy — well before the 24-week precedent established by Roe v. Wade. Despite multiple lower courts’ rulings that the law was blatantly unconstitutional, the Supreme Court agreed to hold oral arguments to determine whether all pre-viability abortion bans are constitutional. In their amicus brief, state legislators argue that the Court’s failure to uphold the rule of law and precedent would result in disastrous consequences for women seeking abortions, as well as for their families.
“State legislators are the first line of defense against policies that deliberately roll back progress on abortion rights and reproductive health across the country, and the overwhelming majority of the public agrees we must protect Roe v. Wade,” said Jennifer Driver, SiX’s Senior Director of Reproductive Rights. “With this amicus brief, nearly 900 legislators are sending the Supreme Court a clear message: we cannot go back. You must uphold 50 years of legal abortion in all 50 states.”
Arguments in Dobbs v. Women’s Health Organization will come on the heels of Texas enacting a law that effectively bans all abortions in the state after six weeks of pregnancy, and emboldens any citizen to surveil and harass virtually anyone under vigilante claims of noncompliance. The Texas law is just one of nearly 600 abortion restriction bills introduced in 2021—the worst year for state legislative attacks on abortion since the Roe decision. Many more restrictions are expected, as several state officials have indicated they are looking to mimic the Texas law in their own states.
“My home state of Texas is showing all of America what a world without the protections of Roe v. Wade looks like — one where wealthier people can travel to get reproductive care while poorer Texans are stripped of their fundamental rights,” said Texas Rep. Jasmine Crockett. “We can’t let laws like SB 8 and Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act become the norm and endanger millions of pregnant women and people.”
“The flood of anti-reproductive health legislation is an assault on the safety, privacy and peace of mind of millions of birthing people,” said Florida Rep. Anna Eskamani. “It is especially bad for Black, Latino, and Indigenous people, as well as people with low incomes or those who live in rural areas.”
“Since so many state legislators have been leading the assault on reproductive rights, it only makes sense that state legislators be the first to defend them,” said Arizona Rep. Athena Salman. “By adding my name to this amicus brief, I join hundreds of powerful, strong reproductive freedom champions standing up for the rights of all.”
Public sentiment is overwhelmingly in favor of keeping Roe, according to a recent Data for Progress poll, with 60% in favor and 23% against. By a 2–1 margin, voters also strongly disapprove of allowing citizens to sue individuals they suspect of helping someone get an abortion—the cornerstone of the Texas bill.
“The right of each of us to make our own health decisions is extremely popular,” said North Carolina Sen. Natalie Murdock. “Efforts by lawmakers to dismantle Roe are not supported by the vast majority of the public. This amicus brief represents not only the views of the hundreds of legislators who signed on, but their millions of constituents who all agree it’s time to make legal abortion an immediate reality.”