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Elizabeth Warren rolls out federal policy proposal to protect abortion rights

Georgia Local Matters: Abortion law

Sen. Elizabeth Warren released a plan on Friday aimed at protecting abortion rights amid mounting Republican efforts to reverse, or at least chip away at the historic Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling. Hinging largely on the assumption of a Democrat-controlled House and Senate, Warren's proposal calls for Congress to "create federal, statutory rights that parallel the constitutional right in Roe v. Wade."

Warren's proposal would also allow federal money to be used for abortions.

"Our democracy should not be held hostage by right-wing courts, and women should not have to hope that Brett Kavanaugh and Donald Trump's Supreme Court will respect the law," Warren wrote in a Medium post.

Nearly every Democratic presidential candidate hit the panic button after Alabama's governor signed a bill banning virtually all abortions in the state. It was the seventh state to pass stricter legislation regulating abortions this year.

The Alabama law won't go into effect for six months, and it's likely to be halted by a federal judge because it contradicts the Supreme Court's 1971 decision that protects a woman's right to have an abortion during the first or second trimester of pregnancy.  

The Supreme Court is more conservative than it has been in decades. If the Alabama bill — or any of the several other state abortion laws halted by judges — were to reach the Supreme Court, it would be heard by five generally right-leaning justices. 

"What I'm trying to do here is get this case in front of the Supreme Court so Roe v. Wade can be overturned," Alabama Rep. Terri Collins told The Washington Post.

Warren's plan offers a defense in that fight, but it also goes far beyond protecting Roe; she wants to repeal the Hyde Amendment, thereby allowing abortions to be covered by programs like Medicaid, and to require private insurance providers to cover abortions.

Additionally, Warren's plan calls for protections on the use of abortion pills, not covered under Roe.

But the conservative plan to bring abortion back before the Supreme Court is already in motion.

The same day the Alabama bill passed, the ACLU filed a lawsuit to block it. If the judge rules in their favor, an appeal will follow just as quickly. Before Warren or any Democrat can chase their progressive dreams about abortion in Congress, they will need to defend the existing law in the courts.

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