The decisions that these zealots make will affect the lives of millions of women decades from now
Judges need to be fair-minded thinkers able to consider legal questions without bias, not narrow-minded ideologues working to curtail reproductive rights at any price.

Iwas 19 years old when I first visited a Planned Parenthood health center. It was 1973, the same year the supreme court recognized a constitutional right to abortion in the landmark Roe v Wade decision. Decades later, who possibly could have thought that my daughter’s generation would still be fighting for the legal right for women to control our own bodies?

Anti-choice activists and lawmakers have been systematically chipping away at reproductive freedom at all levels of government, and too often doing so under the radar so that few will notice. In my travels I have met educated, successful women who have no idea of the restrictions being enacted in their own states. I’ll never forget a woman I met in Houston who, after I mentioned that Texas had passed a mandatory waiting period for abortions, responded: “No, I would know that.” But we don’t always know – and that’s part of the success of the anti-choice movement.

After years of this type of erosion, the Trump administration is now taking big and permanent swings at reproductive rights by nominating extreme anti-choice figures to serve as judges in lifetime positions.

The first attack came in the form of the supreme court justice Neil Gorsuch, who has a disturbing record of ruling against women’s rights, but it goes far beyond the high court. At all levels of the federal judiciary, Republicans are pushing through Trump’s staunchly anti-abortion judges at a rapid clip and putting reproductive rights in jeopardy for generations to come.

These men (yes, his nominees are mostly men and overwhelmingly white) are the textbook definition of extreme. Consider Mark Norris, whom Trump nominated for a lifetime position on a district court in Tennessee. Norris is an anti-choice Republican state senator who believes that a woman’s right to access abortion should be “very limited”. He co-sponsored a proposal to empower that state to ban abortion even when a woman’s life is at risk, a position considered fringe even among the anti-choice crowd. And now Trump wants him to become a federal judge.

Judges need to be fair-minded thinkers able to consider legal questions without bias, not narrow-minded ideologues working to curtail reproductive rights at any price.

Other Trump nominees, including Howard Nielson and Kyle Duncan, have supported laws aimed at shutting down abortion clinics through medically unnecessary regulations. Another, Matthew Kacsmaryk, disputes the reasoning of the Roe decision and uses quotation marks when writing about the “fundamental right” to abortion, presumably to emphasize his disdain for such an outrageouscharacterization.

For these nominees, the Senate still can, and absolutely should, reject their nominations. But many of Trump’s disturbing picks have already been confirmed by the Senate – a fact that Trump likes to brag about during news conferences. John Bush, a Trump nominee who is now a judge on a powerful appeals court, has compared abortion to slavery, calling them “the two greatest tragedies in our country”.

Steven Grasz, now an appellate court judge, wrote a law review article on “Why There is No Constitutional Right to Kill a Partially-Born Human Being” and has argued that Medicaid coverage should be denied to women seeking abortions after surviving rape. He was confirmed by Republicans for a lifetime position as a federal judge despite being rated unanimously as “not qualified” by the American Bar Association. After another Trump nominee memorably could not answer even the most basic legal questions during his Senate hearing, it’s clear that Republicans are selling out our judicial system with embarrassingly unfit nominees to get the agenda they want.

To say that our reproductive rights are not safe in these hands is a wild understatement, and the decisions that these zealots make will affect the lives of millions of women for decades to come.

This month marks the 45th anniversary of the Roe v Wade decision. I wish we could rest on our laurels and celebrate the progress that has been made, but the reality is that Trump filling the judiciary with anti-choice judges could reverse all of that progress, leaving a destructive legacy that will far outlast his presidency. Executive orders and even legislation can be undone, but judges are there for a lifetime. Senators only have one opportunity to put the brakes on Trump’s anti-choice court-packing campaign – and it’s right now.

  • Kathleen Turner is an advocate and Academy Award-nominated actor and serves on the board of People For the American Way’s affiliated PFAW Foundation.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/17/trumps-judges-threaten-reproductive-rights-for-generations-to-come