“Heartbeat bills” effectively ban abortion by outlawing it after the sixth week of pregnancy — which is before most people even know they’re pregnant. Sixteen states have either passed these bills or are pushing similar ones.
The long game, of course, is to bring a case before the Supreme Court, where the justices are more likely than at any time time recent memory to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed one such bill into law last Tuesday. This Thursday, 2020 Democratic hopeful Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) will headline an event “to assail the ‘horrific’ anti-abortion measure,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Nearly two dozen Democrats are vying for the nomination, and Gillibrand has struggled to stand out. Lately she’s been insisting that, unlike her competitors, she is “having the most fun” on the campaign trail. She has yet to meet the donor threshold for a spot in the first DNC debates: her polls are hovering around 1%.
But abortion rights are a marquee issue for Gillibrand. She has advocated for a woman’s right to choose since her earliest days in the Senate. Now, as a candidate for president, she’s pledged to nominate only judges who would uphold Roe v. Wade as a legal precedent, which is, as Politico notes, “an unusual step for a presidential candidate.”
I'm heading to Georgia tomorrow.
The onslaught of abortion bans passing in states—as recently as in Alabama’s legislature last night—represents the greatest threat to reproductive freedom in our lifetimes. We need to fight back, hard, on the frontlines. https://t.co/MoxizrX5mM
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) May 15, 2019
In that announcement, which came the same day Kemp signed the near-ban into law, she acknowledged hers was not a “traditional” move for presidents and presidential candidates. But that tradition was shattered “when Mitch McConnell obstructed the nomination process and stole a Supreme Court seat, when Donald Trump nominated dozens of ideologically extreme judges hand-picked by far-right think tanks, and when Republicans confirmed a Supreme Court Justice who is credibly accused of sexual misconduct.”
Gillibrand went on:
I believe that reproductive rights are human rights, and they are nonnegotiable. Women in America must be trusted to make their own medical decisions and have access to the full range of reproductive health care, including abortion…
I have always stood up to protect women’s access to safe and legal abortion, birth control and health care at Planned Parenthood. I’ve vowed to overturn President Trump’s domestic gag rule — which prevents doctors from giving their patients information about the full range of reproductive health care — on day one of my presidency. And as president, I will protect our courts from anti-choice extremists.
Georgia, like the rest of the nation, has unconscionably high maternal mortality rates. The United States has the worst rates of maternal deaths in the developed world, and of developed nations, only in the U.S. is the rate of maternal deaths rising. As the Centers for Disease Control reports, black mothers are three to four times more likely than white mothers to die during childbirth.
In Georgia, 62 black women die due to pregnancy complications for every 100,000 births. Kemp’s “pro-life” values apparently do not extend to these women, but they do extend to late periods; under this law, an embryo is a “natural person” who “can qualify as a dependent minor for income tax purposes and certain population-based determinations,” as ThinkProgress previously reported.
Several of Gillibrand’s 2020 competitors for the Democratic nomination have also spoken out against this spate of anti-abortion laws, including Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), former Vice President Joe Biden, and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke.
This story was updated to properly identify the 2020 candidates.