On Wednesday, as the Supreme Court inched closer to overturning Roe v. Wade and drastically upending abortion rights across the U.S., Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) panned the court for allowing Justice Brett Kavanaugh to rule on the matter, pointing out that he has been accused of multiple counts of sexual assualt.
“Reminder that Brett Kavanaugh *still* remains credibly accused of sexual assault on multiple accounts with corroborated details and this year the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation] admitted it never fully investigated,” Ocasio-Cortez said on Wednesday. “Yet the court is letting him decide on whether to legalize forced birth in the US. No recusal.”
Kavanaugh has been accused of sexual assault by several women who have said that he assaulted or harrassed them in or around the 1980s. Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation against him garnered particular attention as she came out publicly to say that Kavanaugh had forcefully groped her and rubbed himself against her while putting his hand over her mouth to prevent her from screaming. In spite of these accusations, Republicans marched on with the nomination and confirmation of Kavanaugh.
Earlier this year, the FBI said that it received over 4,500 tips about Kavanaugh in 2020, but never acted on them — even though Kavanaugh was a Supreme Court nominee at the time. Instead, the agency handed off the tips to the Trump administration, which had no motivation to investigate allegations against their nominee as Republicans were bending rules to fill the court with conservative justices.
“Out of 9 justices, 3 were appointed by a man who tried to overthrow the U.S. government” and elected with a minority of the popular vote, Ocasio-Cortez continued. “Those 3 will decide whether the US will legalize forcing people to give birth against their will. Legitimacy requires consent of the governed. They are dismantling it.”
After hearing initial arguments on a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court appears poised to upend the decades-old decision that has enshrined abortion rights for nearly 50 years. This is the result of years of conservative and far-right campaigning that has slowly pushed the country toward undoing abortion rights.
If Roe is overturned, the U.S. would join a small handful of countries that have rolled back abortion protections after having expanded them. Among these countries is Poland, which banned abortion due to years of far-right governance.
Without Roe in place, many states would likely implement restrictive bans — ones that don’t allow exceptions even for victims of rape or incest. That Kavanaugh would have the power to essentially greenlight such laws is exceptionally cruel, many advocates have pointed out.
A lack of abortion protections would have far-reaching consequences for the public. About 26 states are poised to immediately place bans on abortions as soon as Roe protections are gone — and recent data shows that without these protections, people will have to travel 250 miles round-trip, on average, to see their nearest abortion provider. This adds additional hurdles to what can be an already expensive procedure — although getting an abortion is not only far less expensive than giving birth but arguably much safer.
Texas’s near-total abortion ban, which took effect in September, may have already claimed victims, as medical professionals have warned that pregnancy-related deaths could increase due to the ban. The law incentivizes private citizens to report individuals that aid someone in getting an abortion by offering them up to $10,000 in lawsuit winnings. It does not make exceptions for rape or incest.
In response to major backlash against the law, far-right Gov. Greg Abbott vowed to end rape in the state — a claim that was clearly disingenous because the criminal legal system not only fails to address the root causes of rape but also perpetuates them.
“If Gov. Abbott is as ‘anti-rape’ as he claims, why doesn’t he just lead the Texas state legislature to pass a law for $10k bounties on people who engage in or aid sexual assault?” wrote Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter. “Or is he opposed to that because it’s a slippery slope of vigilantism where men could be unjustly targeted?”