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May 19, 2022

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McConnell says national abortion ban is ‘possible’ if Roe v. Wade is overturned

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said it is “possible” abortion will be banned nationwide if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade this summer.

During an interview with USA Today, published Friday, McConnell suggested a national abortion ban could happen but noted that such a discussion is premature.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks to reporters after a Republican strategy meeting at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, March 8, 2022. 
((AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite))

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“All of this puts the cart before the horse,” he said.

When asked if a conversation on a national abortion ban is worthy of debate, the senator said federal restrictions on the procedure are possible.

“If the leaked opinion became the final opinion, legislative bodies – not only at the state level but at the federal level – certainly could legislate in that area,” McConnell said.

“And if this were the final decision, that was the point that it should be resolved one way or another in the legislative process. So yeah, it’s possible,” he continued.

This comes after Politico published a draft opinion from Justice Samuel Alito last week indicating that the Supreme Court is set to overturn Roe v. Wade. The court ruled in the landmark 1973 decision that a woman had a constitutional right to an abortion under the 14th Amendment’s right to privacy.

A crowd of people gather outside the Supreme Court, Monday night, May 2, 2022 in Washington following reports of a leaked draft opinion by the court overturning Roe v. Wade. 
(AP Photo/Anna Johnson)

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McConnell said in the interview that Republicans have made their position clear on abortion.

“With regard to the abortion issue, I think it’s pretty clear where Senate Republicans stand,” McConnell said. “And if and when the court makes a final decision, I expect everybody will be more definitive. But I don’t think it’s much secret where Senate Republicans stand on that issue.”

After Politico published the draft, McConnell and his Republican colleagues criticized the leak. The Kentucky senator said during an address on the Senate Floor Tuesday that the Department of Justice should investigate and pursue criminal charges against whoever is responsible for the leak.

But Democrats expressed frustration with the contents of the draft, fearing the possibility Roe v. Wade could be overturned.

The Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., slammed the draft opinion after it was reported Monday evening.

“If the report is accurate, the Supreme Court is poised to inflict the greatest restriction of rights in the past fifty years – not just on women but on all Americans. The Republican-appointed Justices’ reported votes to overturn Roe v. Wade would go down as an abomination, one of the worst and most damaging decisions in modern history,” the two lawmakers said in a joint statement.

Schumer is expected to force a vote in the Senate this week to codify Roe v. Wade, although the measure will likely fail given that it will not have the 60 votes needed to pass. The vote would, however, force Republicans to go on the record ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

And Roe v. Wade supporters have taken to the streets to protest the leaked opinion, even showing up to conservative justices’ houses to express their outrage.

The demonstrations follow the White House’s refusal to condemn activists publishing a map of the justices’ home addresses.

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“I think the President’s view is that there’s a lot of passion, a lot of fear, a lot of sadness from many, many people across this country about what they saw in that leaked document,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing Thursday. “We obviously want people’s privacy to be respected.  We want people to protest peacefully if they want to — to protest.  That is certainly what the President’s view would be.”

Demonstrations are also anticipated at Catholic churches on Mother’s Day after the pro-choice group Ruth Sent Us, named after late liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, urged its Twitter followers to protest the high court’s potential overturning of Roe v. Wade at their local Catholic churches.

“Whether you’re a ‘Catholic for Choice,’ ex-Catholic, of other or no faith, recognize that six extremist Catholics set out to overturn Roe,” the group wrote in a tweet Tuesday. “Stand at or in a local Catholic Church Sun May 8.”