With the fate of reproductive rights for tens of millions of Americans now dependent upon federal and state lawmakers in the wake of the Supreme Court's reversal of Roe v. Wade, Common Dreams takes a look at how Democratic and Republican candidates in 10 key U.S. Senate races responded to Friday's ruling.
"The court just took away a woman's most fundamental freedom... for the first time in our country's history, our daughters will grow up with fewer rights than their mothers had."
Calling Friday "a sad day for the court and for the country," President Joe Biden urged Americans to elect congressional candidates who will vote to codify reproductive freedom and state lawmakers who will defend abortion rights.
"Voters need to make their voices heard," the president asserted. "This fall Roe is on the ballot. Personal freedoms are on the ballot. The right to privacy, liberty, equality; they're all on the ballot."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who has faced criticism for backing anti-choice Democrats over progressive candidates and for downplaying the growing threat to reproductive rights, warned: "Be aware of this—the Republicans are plotting a nationwide abortion ban. They cannot be allowed to have a majority in the Congress to do that, but that's their goal."
Reproductive rights advocates have stressed the need for the Senate to pass the House-approved Women's Health Protection Act in order to codify the protections afforded by Roe into federal law. However, without a majority large enough to overcome or reform the filibuster, there remains no hope for the bill's passage.
With an eye on November's midterm elections, here's how leading Democratic and Republican candidates in 10 key Senate races responded to Friday's Supreme Court decision.
Democratic Senate nominee and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman called the ruling "unjust" and "wrong," vowing to "fight it with everything I've got," while Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Republican nominee, welcomed the decision, which he said can be the "greatest gift of all" to mothers and children.
Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto tweeted that "today is a devastating day for women in America," and that she is "standing with the majority of Nevadans and Americans more determined than ever to fight for a woman's right to choose."
Republican challenger Adam Laxalt—the former state attorney general who promotes the "Big Lie" that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from former President Donald Trump—called the ruling "a historic victory for the sanctity of life and the principles of democratic self-determination."
Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock said he was "outraged" by the decision, pledging that "as a pro-choice pastor, I'll never back down from this fight."
Warnock's GOP opponent, former NFL player Herschel Walker, said he "won't apologize for erring on the side of life," while praising the court for sending the issue of abortion "back to the states, which is where it belongs."
Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) tweeted that "today's decision is a giant step backward for our country," and that "it's just wrong that my granddaughter will have fewer freedoms than my grandmother did."
Arizona voters won't elect a Republican Senate candidate until August. Among the contenders, state Attorney General Mark Brnovich said the justices upheld their responsibility "to defend the most vulnerable among us," while Trump-endorsed venture capitalist Blake Masters hailed what he called "a huge victory for children across this country."
Sen. Ron Johnson (R) cheered the ruling as "a victory for life and for those who have fought for decades to protect the unborn."
Meanwhile, the crowded Democratic primary field condemned the decision. Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes warned that "thousands of women will suffer and die" as a result, while state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski said she was "outraged and absolutely devastated." Outgamie County Executive Tom Nelson stressed the need to "expand our majority to abolish the filibuster [and] codify Roe v. Wade," and Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry asserted that Republicans "are not going to stop at Roe."
"We've got to get out and vote Ron Johnson and Republicans up and down the ballot out of office," Lasry said. "There is too much at stake."
Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) lamented that "the court just took away a woman's most fundamental freedom," and that "for the first time in our country's history, our daughters will grow up with fewer rights than their mothers had."
Republicans seeking to oust Hassan include former Londonderry Town Manager, who supports "returning this matter to the state legislatures;" retired army Gen. Don Bolduc, who said the justices "made the right decision;" and state Senate President Chuck Morse, who said the decision "has no impact on New Hampshire."
Democratic nominee and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley argued the high court set "a dangerous precedent for our personal freedoms," while her GOP opponent, Trump-backed U.S. Rep. Ted Budd, called the ruling "a historic victory for the millions of Americans who believe that every life is precious and deserves protection."
Venture capitalist and "Big Lie" purveyor J.D. Vance called Friday "a great day," while quoting from the Old Testament. U.S. Rep. In stark contrast, Tim Ryan, the Democratic nominee, tweeted that "we should be about expanding rights, but this Supreme Court is taking them away."
"In overturning Roe v. Wade, today's decision gives the green light to extreme politicians back home in Ohio to go all in on denying women the freedom to access lifesaving care," he added.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) tweeted that "today's decision means that the laws regarding abortion in your state will now be decided by elected legislators in your state," while Democratic challenger and U.S. Rep. Val Demings said she is "mad as hell" but "not giving up."
Republican primary frontrunner and disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens applauded what he called "a huge victory for the life movement."
Among the crowded Democratic primary field in the race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Roy Blunt, nurse and brewery heiress Trudy Busch Valentine vowed to "work relentlessly for my constituents to be able to make their own healthcare decisions." Meanwhile, Lucas Kunce, an attorney and Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran, tweeted that "a lot of the same politicians who demanded we keep up an endless war in Afghanistan so we could 'protect women and girls' are now criminalizing abortion across the country."
"Missourians can't just wait for another election," he asserted. "Senate Democrats need to end the filibuster and codify Roe NOW."
Addressing the midterm elections, Planned Parenthood Votes executive director Jenny Lawson said in a statement that "the shock waves from today's devastating decision will ripple through to November, when our choices this election cycle could not be clearer."
"One side worked for years to overturn Roe v. Wade and now wants a nationwide abortion ban. The other is fighting to leave personal health care decisions up to a patient and their doctor," she continued. "Voters see this court ruling, they see states already banning abortion, they see their freedoms being handed over to politicians, and they are outraged."
"This November, Planned Parenthood Votes will ensure that outrage translates to massive voter turnout and victories for candidates who unapologetically support abortion rights," Lawson added.
This content originally appeared on Common Dreams - Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community and was authored by Brett Wilkins.