The confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States would pose a real threat to the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion across the country. If Roe is overturned, the legal status of abortion will be decided state by state. This means millions of women will face new and sometimes insurmountable barriers to abortion and reproductive health care.
Reproductive health care is an issue that’s personal to me. I value the choices I had to take care of my own health and fertility issues. Safe, accessible reproductive health care made it possible for me to conceive two healthy babies. I want these options to remain available to Minnesota women and families.
Here in Minnesota, news reports including a recent MPR News/Star Tribune Minnesota poll make it clear that Judge Kavanaugh was unpopular even before the growing number of sexual misconduct allegations came to light. Minnesotans support Roe vs. Wade and want to protect it as the law of the land. This is true for men, women, Democrats, independents, and people of all age groups and each economic subgroup and region in our state surveyed.
As a state senator, I see firsthand the way that reproductive rights are used to play politics in the Legislature. Manufacturing controversy over reproductive rights is a well-worn tactic to distract us from the real needs we face across the state. In Minnesota, the right to legal abortion is protected by our state Constitution even if Roe vs. Wade is overturned. But that doesn’t mean we can rest easy. Our work to protect women’s access to health care is not done. We must continue to improve and expand access to health care for everyone in Minnesota, including access to health care services like abortion.
And let’s remember that we are bordered by states that don’t protect legal abortion. Our neighbors are actively legislating barriers to deny women safe access to reproductive health care. If Roe vs. Wade is overturned, women across the country will face a conflicting maze of reproductive choice laws. Regardless of the state you live in, women deserve the right to safe and accessible reproductive health care, including abortion.
Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination is a stark reminder that sexual harassment and assault are issues of bodily autonomy, control and dignity — just like reproductive rights. The allegations against Kavanaugh are credible and the Senate must take them seriously. Here at home, a majority of Minnesota women have experienced sexual harassment. We still have much work to do around sexual harassment in the workplace, in our State Capitol and on the streets.
The chaos of Kavanaugh’s nomination will eventually end. But regardless of the outcome, the fight to protect women’s reproductive rights is not over. The people of Minnesota don’t want to see Roe vs. Wade overturned. Only 12 percent of poll respondents are in favor of ending the protections provided by Roe. But we also know that President Donald Trump pledged to nominate Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe vs. Wade.
My constituents and a majority of Minnesotans have serious reservations about Kavanaugh’s fitness to serve on our nation’s highest court. I urge the U.S. Senate to reject the lifetime appointment of Judge Kavanaugh.
Melisa Lopez Franzen, DFL-Edina, is a member of the Minnesota Senate.