tv Center for Reproductive Rights Holds News Conference on Abortion Case CSPAN December 5, 2021 6:22pm-7:14pm EST
>> the center for reproductive rights held a news conference following supreme court oral arguments in the abortion case dobbs v. jackson women's health, organization. they provided insight into the case and talk about next steps if the mississippi abortion law is upheld. nancy: i'm nancy northup, i'm the president and ceo of the center for reproductive rights. today was the fourth time that the center for reproductive rights lawyers have argued before the supreme court in the past six years on abortion rights. everyone of, we have been before the courts because states have passed laws that are doing every thing they can to restrict abortion access and are in open defiance of laws. mississippi is no different, in clear defiance of the standard of roe v. wade.
that was the argument today in the landmark case, in which the steaks on abortion rights could not be clearer. julie rikelman, our senior director of litigation, made our case before the court today, making clear that there's only one outcome in this case which is consistent with the rule of law, gender equality, and the constitutional protection for individual liberty. if roe were to fall, and likely in half the , including large swaths of the south and midwest,it would be a radical taking away all along protected rights. it is not just roe, it is a threat not just of abortion rights, but really the fabric of decisions over 50 years preceding roe, about everyone's personal liberty to make decisions about home, family,
marriage and childbearing. two generations of women have relied on roe v. wade. one out of four women in the united states will have an abortion in her lifetime. and banning abortions will hurt most people who are in challenging circumstances those who already have a hard time accessing health care, including communities of color, people of low incomes, rural communities, young people, and more. just a month ago in a texas case , it was blocked. here we are again today. it was clear outside the courtroom that there is tremendous support for abortion rights. seven in 10 people in the united states support legal abortion. it was strongly seeing out in front of fort today. i want to hand it over to shannon brewer, the fearless clinic director at jackson women's health organization. we are proud to represent them in this case. she will talk about how it felt to be at the court today and how
it is feeling back in mississippi. shannon: thank you, nancy. thank you everyone. my name is shannon brewer. i am the director of jackson women's health center, and today we were at the supreme court. it was great seeing so much support, thousands of people out supporting us and supporting women in general. i feel like it was a good feeling knowing that we had a lot of people supporting. it was a difficult day for everybody, because we don't know what is going to go on behind this. i think if you listened to the arguments, they did a great job representing women today. and we couldn't have asked for more than that. otherwise, it is good to be a difficult road now. we are just going to be sitting and kind of twiddling our thumbs
if you don't know how to enter your q&a question, it is at the bottom of your screen. there's three little dots with more underneath it. our first question is from alexandra martinez. when will the court likely reach a decision? >> let me invite julie rikelman to come on and answer questions about the court, the arguments, and what happens next. julie: sorry. just a little bit slow in getting myself on video. the likely timeframe for a decision is probably june in . in general, the court has not issued decisions in major cases until the end of its term and with the term ends in june. so i would expect late june is the most likely time for
decision, but of course, it could come sooner. nancy: our next question is from brandon richard. this is for shannon. what hasn't and like for you over the last few years living and working in mississippi? shannon: i lived in mississippi all my life. so it hasn't been a few years. it has been ok. i enjoy living in mississippi, i enjoy working at the clinic and spending time with the patients, being able to be there for the patients. the only issue we are having within the last few years that is difficult would be, dealing with these court cases, these laws that keep coming up. every time we get past one, another one comes up. that is the difficult part. we just keep trying to fight them.
emily: what do you have to say to mississippi leaders who say they're speaking for the people of mississippi and fighting for this 15-week band? shannon: i live in mississippi and you are not peeking for me. emily: alright. from jessica. there appears to be a majority of supreme court justices interested in curbing abortion rights. how will the center for reproductive rights do it to work if the court significantly revises or overrules roe v. wade? nancy: julie, why don't you talk about that, julie leads or litigation team at the center for reproductive rights.
she could talk about this from a litigation perspective. julie: i think from the center's perspective, we will not stop trying to fight for women's ability to make this decision. we think it is a fundamental right under the constitution, and should the court decide that it is not a protected right under the liberty clause, we will continue with legal arguments. in addition there are state courts and state statutes that can provide protection for people to be able to make this decision for themselves, and people continue to litigate in the state courts, as we have for many years. he will not stop fighting, because it is too important for people and their families to make this decision for themselves. nancy: and i would add to that, we work not just in the state and federal courts, that julie talked about, but we work in
legislative advocacy, both at the state level and at the national level. you know, congress could fix the issue right now that we have faced in both this case, in the six-week ban case in texas and in the case for louisiana 2020 , in the case from texas in 2016. all these bans place an undue burden on access to abortion care. we have the women's health protection act that would make sure people can access abortion services and unnecessary burdens. it has already passed the house in september, strongly supported by the administration and has 48
cosponsors in the senate. we will continue to be working for a national protection of access to abortion care not just protection but regardless of what insurance or on including programs like medicaid or federal employee insurance, that you could have asked orson care. >> between my argument and the argument of the solicitor general, we were able to put all the key issues in front of the court, and those key issues are the fact that mississippi has not made any argument for taking this right away, and hasn't made any argument that the court has not already considered and rejected for. we also focused on how important this right is for women and families, for their autonomy,
for their ability to control their bodies and their lives, and also for the equal status in society. i think we were able to powerfully present those arguments. right now it is in the courts hands. emily: from caitlin. shannon, could you expand more on the waiting game being experienced by your clinicians and staff especially in the light of the influx of patients due to sb eight in texas? shannon: what i meant when i said waiting game, as julie was saying, it could until june before we know what the supreme court decides with this case. meantime, of course we will keep seeing patients, as many days as we can. because that is what we are doing right now. we will continue to do that. in the meantime, our doctors are
waiting, we are waiting to see what the end result is. emily: row set asks, nancy, could you talk about how you felt the arguments went, and how you think the justices might rule? and there is a follow-up western to julie on that. julie: i think the arguments made by the u.s. government on behalf of the biden administration, went very well. we made the point clearly. it needs to be made. and julie noted, this is an incredibly important right to women to have orderly autonomy, to be able to control their lives, health and future. we thought the arguments went
extremely well today and we are pleased. julie? emily: julie, the follow-up for you is, did any of justice's questions strike you as particularly important? julie: every justice's question is it really important. what we heard from the justices was, thinking about the various issues that we knew would come up in this case, the viability line, should the court maintain the viability line? how is this right important for women and their families? what are the factors it should look at? so the questions were really about topics we expected would come up. i think in particular what was important to me was to emphasize to the court that if it takes away the viability line there really will be no stopping point , and states will rush into ban
abortion at any point in pregnancy. and we know that is true, because states already have those bans, they have passed to them, and they are being blocked right now by the courts because of the viability line. mississippi itself has a six-week ban. so i think that was critical. it was that mississippi was upfront about its argument is that to take away the right altogether. so if the viability line falls, that really is the same as overruling casey and roe and women really won't have any meaningful protection for their ability to make this decision. emily: along the vein on questions from the justices, a journalist from the washington post asks, julie, could you comment on your takeaways from the justices' questions assertions about the , particularly justice kavanaugh's assertions about the constitution being neutral on abortion and examples of times the court has overturned justice
barrett's comments about happy safe havens? julie: yes. i am happy to elaborate on what i said during argument. the court has been clear that liberty includes not just the right to control your body by the right to make decisions related to family and childbearing. the constitution protects women's liberty and the court has been clear. if the constitution protects those things, that women have an equal claim to liberty, an equal claim to be able to control their body. it is not correct to say that it would neutral to take that away from women. in addition, as the solicitor general pointed out, the cases that justice kavanaugh was discussing were cases where the
court reversed to make individual rights order in scope. to take away a constitutional right after 50 years really would be a monumental thing to do and not something the court should ever do lately, much less with the fundamental right like this. finally in terms of safe havens, as i explained, that is certainly not a new argument, it was made to the court many times before. adoption has always been available during all the cases the court has decided related to this right, and as the solicitor general made clear in argument, forcing a woman to give up a child for adoption or to make the decision whether to give a child up for adoption when the woman saw that the best decision for her and for her family is to end that pregnancy, that is an incredibly monumental infringement on the woman's liberty. . so the fact that adoption is
available doesn't change the impact that forcing a woman to go to pregnancy and have a child would have on her. emily: alright. from lauren, if roe does fall, how would the -- existence change, and how will the center's strategy shift? maybe nancy you want to take that first? nancy: it depends on what the court might do. and i don't want to be speculating on that today. suffice it to say, i think julie made the case clear that mississippi already has a six-week ban. we will continue to litigate that case. i think that if they were to uphold the 15 week ban, you would see states across the country seeking to limit
abortion at 12 weeks, 10 weeks, eight weeks, six weeks, altogether. that is what we would be facing. i am not sure anything shannon can add in terms of the clinic itself, because they are already under incredible pressure right now in terms of serving the patients that they see. emily: alright. second part of our question is, what will happen to the pink house, or how will they change if roe falls? shannon: to piggyback on what nancy said, i agree, i don't want to speculate. it will depend on what the supreme court decides. but i would feel that in any capacity, the pink house would assist women in some shape or form, in trying to help them with getting an abortion,
whether it is referring patients, or something in that capacity. it hasn't been thought completely through, but i would assure people that we would still be doing something that would be beneficial to women. emily: alright. from grayson, is access to contraceptives threatened if roe v. wade is tossed out? nancy: julie, why don't you talk about the intersection between these cases and the abortion-rights cases? julie: yes. i think, absolutely, that the legal arguments that the state has made against the right to abortion are the same arguments that it could make against interception. it is critical for people to understand that what mississippi has said is there is not a right to abortion in the constitution, it was illegal to get an abortion in 1868, and therefore, abortion should left to the
states. all those things are true about contraception. the word contraception doesn't appear in the constitution. it has been interpreted that people have the right to use contraception because of the right liberty in the constitution, that is the same right to liberty that protects abortion and similarly in 1868 , there was no affirmative protection for abortion. -- sorry, for contraception. in fact states had prohibited , contraception for about 100 years before the court said that it was a constitutional right to use contraception. so the types of arguments that the state is making can absolutely be made against a host of other rights including rates that are critical to the lgbtq community, because the state is arguing that people liberty should be limited to the laws that were enforced in 1868 . and that is just a very dangerous argument, not when the court is accepted, and it would
mean that the historical discrimination against groups that were considered unequal in the 1800s, including women, would continue. and that cannot be true under our constitution. nancy: can i just add, it was the case that states did ban abortion around the time of the 14th amendment, post-civil war amendments, it is also the case that abortion was available at the common law, which sometimes the court looks at in terms of history. maybe say a little bit about that, because i think people are not aware and of the common law. explain what the common law is. julie: i would encourage anyone interested at the history to look at an amicus brief filed in this case on behalf of two major organizations representing more than 10,000 historians of american law.
and what is clear is that for a century, women were able to end their pregnancies under common law. under common law means the state of the law made by the courts, not statutes, not constitutional law, just court made law. and that judge-made law was very clear that women were able. it was not criminalized up to a certain point in pregnancy, it was a decision they could make themselves. that is remarkable that women were able to do that. so history and tradition is actually very firmly on our side, whether if one looks on a specific level, or if one looks generally, that the ability to make these kind of critical decisions about family and childbearing. emily: alright. ray from prism, while we
wait for a decision, how can people who live out of state to support those seeking abortion care? nancy: a few things on that. you can support them directly by supporting the abortion providers that exist in many states. unfortunately in many states, mississippi being one of them, their medicaid programs don't have abortion care for the health care system. also other groups that provide support and advocacy for abortion rights. it is also critically important that everybody make their senators know -- that women's health protection act, if you want to address the financial aspects of abortion access and another one addresses the right, the burdens that we are talking about here.
they need to make their senators understand that they want their women's protection rights act past. shannon: you answered it for me. thank you. emily: from carlo of the los angeles times, for julie and nancy, i know you don't like to read --, but clearly some of the justices were trying to figure out ways to get around roll. roberts seems to feel that a 15 week ban is reasonable. could the court declare that abortions are allowable for 15 weeks only? nancy: the court has the power to declare the law of the land. i would ask julia to repeat the arguments she made in court today about why doing that would
fundamentally undermine the entire fabric of abortion rights. do you want to explain why they can't uphold this ban consistent with their decision? julie: yes. for a few reasons. one of them has to do with stare decisis, and one has to do with the practical peace. in terms of stare decisis, viability is the central holding of casey and roe. in that case a year ago, it used those words to describe the viability line, so disregarding the viability line is the same as overruling casey and roe. that is the legal stare decisis answer. at the same time. a reasonable possibility standard will not actually give any meaningful protection to women's rights. the courts will not know what viability means. the states could ban that every
two weeks increment until viability. that is that viability line. there will be no clear line for them to abide by. and it is not a reasonable possibility. mississippi itself conceded in this case that there are people who just can't get to the clinic before 15 weeks, and this law will prohibit them from being able to make this basic decision for their lives, and those are people in difficult circumstances -- they have had major health or life changes over the course of their pregnancy, they may be young people or people without contraception who don't recognize a pregnancy until later. or the 75% of people who obtain an abortion in this country that are poor or low income and overcoming various obstacles to get to a clinic, especially because they live far away and can't get there. this will mean all those people are forced to continue the pregnancy, go through labor and delivery, and have the child
even if they decided that was not the best decision for them. that would be incredibly harmful . emily: our next question, similar question, are you worried that the court would take this route, meaning, move the line to 15 weeks? and what would it mean for women across the country? julie: what i will say is, as i just said, it will be devastating for women across the country. first of all, there's tens of thousands of people across the country who are unable to have an abortion before 15 weeks. thousands of people just implicated immediately by a 15 week ban the larger problem is that there will be no stopping point
without a viability line. states are trying to an abortions at 12 weeks, 10 weeks, six weeks. if there is no clear line for the courts to enforce, many states will be trying to ban abortion earlier and earlier and there will be more people impacted. again, this is a case about president. the viability line has been in place 50 years. the court should not be replacing the viability line unless there is something that is obviously more principled and a reasonable possibility standard, or a 15-week standard doesn't meet that criteria. neither in law nor in terms of looking at the impacts of people, there is just no reason to do that. i very much hope that the court will abide by the viability line, as it has for 50 years. emily: from caitlin, jezebel,
nancy, are you worried about litigation similar to the affordable care act lawsuits, if it passes the senate and becomes law? nancy: that women's health protection act is well grounded in congress's constitutional power to act, both in the 14th amendment of protections that we have for personal liberty, but also in the congress --. in recent hearings on the bill, leading constitutional scholars submitted their analyses. we are expected to be challenged, but it has gotten very firm constitutional basis for congress to act. emily: ok. our next question is from roll call -- of late, outcomes of these types of cases have depended a lot on chief justice roberts. was there anything he said today that could be key for the center
and jackson women's health organization? julie: i don't want to speculate about the outcome or to provide specific comments on chief justice roberts' questions tonight. i think the court was grappling with whether the viability line should remain in place and would it be workable to replace it? we tried to explain that the viability line is a clear central holding on these cases. reasonable possibility is not workable. for all those reasons, i think it is critical for the court to uphold the viability line. emily: all right. from emily, when argument
mississippi leaders make is that the right to an abortion should be decided by states, and not the federal government. nancy: julie can answer that under the constitutional protections which are not decided by the voters, julie, your argument to the court today on that? julie: it is exactly what nancy just said, the very notion of the constitutional right is that it is not up to a political vote. . that is what a constitutional right means, it is a matter that is supposed to be left up to the individual, not something that the government can decide for them. that is exactly what the constitution promises us when it promises us the ability to, add a very basic level, control our bodies instead of have the government tell us that we should continue a pregnancy and go through childbirth. it promises we can make these basic decisions. government doesn't get to make them for us, tell us when
and how many children we can have. it is not up to a political vote. emily: from jess, what did you think of justice sotomayor's extensive comments, especially during the first half hour or so? for example, she questioned whether the supreme court will survive the stench, and she disparaged "fringe science" that mississippi cited. julie: i think, again, but not to comment on a specific justice 's questions, i think what the court was talking about was what the courts talked about in casey, which has to do with the critical issue that when the court issues decisions in a number of different areas of constitutional law, there will always be people who disagree with the court's decision.
there may be state who disagree, but the the fact that politicians or some people may disagree is not a reason for the court to overrule the decisions. there has never been a reason for the court to take constitutional rights away. that is the nature of a constitution of right. in addition, the focus really has been on the fact that all the arguments mississippi made today the argument that were already before the court 30 years ago in casey. the court looked at them very carefully and give them serious consideration, and they rejected every single one, and mississippi did not come forward with anything new, so there should be no different outcome today. emily: stephanie from the boston globe, julie, what did you get from the line of questioning from justice thomas, asking you
to be more specific about the theory of bodily autonomy? and the criminal neglect charges against the pregnant woman who had injected cocaine? shannon: -- julie: i think the context, it is very clear that the text of the constitution provides for a guarantee of liberty against deprivation by the state. in the court has been very clear for over 100 years that liberty includes the right to control your body or bodily integrity, as it is called. so there is really nothing new or novel or unusual about that. the question is just whether the right to control one's body extends to women, and whether women have that right, or whether they lose it the moment they are pregnant. that is the question.
so the argument that i tried to make is that women have an equal right to liberty and an equal right to make these decisions about their bodies. emily: from susan, for shannon, will the clinic provide fewer abortions if this ban is upheld? also, why is the clinic -- doctors from out of state? and if there is upheld, -- [indiscernible] ? sorry, three questions. might the clinic use doctors from out of state? shannon: our doctors come from out of state because in prior years, we have had local doctors who helped and every time we get a local doctor, the anti's will
find out who they are, they will call their jobs, go to their houses, stalk them constantly until they can't deal with it and they just quit because they cannot deal with the harassment. that is why all of our doctors are flying in. as far as if the ban is upheld, there would be patients we would not be able to see. emily: and where would they go? or could they go anywhere else? shannon: i am sure some women probably could go somewhere else but the majority of the patients that we see are barely making it there, and they live in the state. these other the women who need the services the most. they can't afford to jump on an airplane and fly somewhere, can't afford to spend $2000 or
$3000 to go to another state and get a hotel room. these are the women who can't afford to do that anyway. although they may be able to do it, they cannot mentally do that, basically, they can't financially do that. that is who it would affect the most. emily: all right. lauren, to julie, if roe does fall, would that possibly in crd ration of self managed abortion? >> that is a credit question.
>> there is absolutely a concern that prosecutors should pursue people for various pregnancy outcomes to find stronger support in the law. if it is overruled, as you see from other countries where abortion has been banned, if various pregnancy outcomes are considered a crime, then every mission -- every miscarriage should be a crime. it is not a risk to people ending their pregnancy, but it is a risk to people who have different pregnancy outcomes and it is very concerning. because we know those prosecutions are, unfortunately, always targeted against predominantly poor people of color. it is very concerning.
>> all right. from jordan of the intercept. i am confused by gorsuch's stance regarding the undue burden standard. gorsuch seems to be getting at this idea that the pre-viability line be replaced with the undue burden test. is that right? how would that work? that means that every gestational ban would have to be litigated as it came along? >> that is exactly right. it would not work. the undue burden standard incorporates the entire undue burden test, which is framed in terms of viability. the court was clear that -- [indiscernible]
>> whether something is a burden before the it does not make any sense. as i tried to explain, the argument states -- states could prohibit abortion simply because the numbers are not very large. this is an argument we have heard about. -- to inhibit people for making this decision but we do not see --.
>> from kaiser health news, how did mississippi arrive at that 15 week limit? what do you think the argument that scientific advances have changed the viability line? >> i consult with the second question. interestingly, mississippi has never been tested in this case but it conceded that viability remains at exactly the same point as it was 30 years ago. it has conceded that this law bans abortion months, weeks before viability. the law was to prohibit the pre-viability abortion. it it is a confusing argument about scientific advances because they have conceded
clearly that viability has not moved. in terms of why did mississippi settle on 15 weeks, it is not clear. i could work for use with the legislature said and what they are finding which that what they said are undermined by the very support and data relied upon. mississippi claimed one of the reasons they wanted to prohibit abortion after the due weeks was because after 15 weeks -- but that study completely says the opposite. of what mississippi is using it for. it is clearly that abortion has become safer at every stage of pregnancy since casey, and a portion to be safer. the concern about women's health and safety, banning abortion before safety makes no sense. >> susan dunlop from new mexico.
it is the court -- if the court overturned roe, could company stop covering abortion it states that keeps abortion safe and legal? >> there would be no logic to that. gary meant mississippi is making is to leave to the state to decide whether -- the legality there will be other states that continue to strongly protect abortion rights, the legislative body or the state constitution to help -- health insurance programs would have no need to change their coverage. >> from huffington post.
julie. are you feeling optimistic? what were your thoughts on the solicitor general's take? >> i didn't think i heard the end of that question. >> are you feeling optimistic? >> i always try to remain optimistic. because, i think that this right is so critical. i care so much about my client and i want to do the best possible job to maintain that abortion is accessible in mississippi. i think the facts and the law are on our side. i remain optimistic. >> what were your thoughts on the solicitor general's case? or, arguments?
>> not being a solicitor general , her argument was excellent. she is excellent. she is an excellent advocate. i think she made a number of critical points and was able to add to the information that i was able to provide in my time, so she focused on precedent, she focused on facts the court had, she focused on how critical interests are for women and their families. to have equal saddest in society -- equal status in society. >> last question is from emily caballero, what would it mean in mississippi if roe were overturned? are --
>> if roe were overturned, it would be detrimental to women in mississippi. it is going to be the lower income women, the african-american women, it is going to be -- i do not have any other words i can use except detrimental. these people who are needing this the most are the ones who are going to be losing this. if you are in a specific tax bracket, you can afford to fly a couple states over to get abortion. if roe p rate is overturned, that is going to affect women everywhere. mississippi, where our health care is already the worst. our education is one of the worst.
you cannot take stuff away from people and expect the situation to be better without giving something but, they are taking away things. the same people that are taking these rights away from women are not willing to help women become better, or to better themselves, or to lift them up. you cannot expect a positive outcome from this. when it is worse, who is going to raise her hand and take blame? it is not going to be good. >> nancy, do you want to give the national perspective? >> what shannon said would be true in states across the nation. not only would states follow suit, but which shannon set about to be impact on lower income in -- what janet said
about lower income communities would be the same as mississippi where people who need the access the most would be losing it. >> globally, what would that mean for the united states? >> the united states be going against what the training of abortion laws have said. over the past when he five years, 50 countries have liberalized abortion laws, they have recognized it as a human right. it is very out of step with the trend, globally, toward abortion. >> think you very much for joining us today. there were a lot of questions, if we missed some, we apologize. feel free to email. and we will get back to you.
we will also have a very -- reporting available to this briefing that you can also request. thank you also watch. have a great day. -- thank you also much. announcer: c-span has a variety of podcasts. weekdays, washington today gives you the latest from the nation's capital. but those plots has interviews with writers about their latest work while the weekly uses audio and their immense archive to determine how -- has advanced over the year. many of our television programs are also available as podcasts. you can find them on the c-span now mobile app or wherever you get your podcast. in mexico bob dole --
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morning at age 98. an article, a panel discussion with scott stewart about mississippi's supreme court abortion case. panelists talked about arguing before the coat -- before the court. [applause] >> i get the best job of all, i think the, getting to hear from the advocates today. the great task is done, at least for today. the work and the prayers and, frankly, the burning dreams of five decades, which is really more than two generations, cull my may noted with what happened this morning in the highest court of our land. maybe it's just that it's the christmas season and i'm trying to kick it into gear, but i keep thinking of that line from t
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