With news of Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement this week having people legitimately worried the U.S. could soon be headed towards "Handmaid's Tale" territory as President Donald Trump vows to move swiftly to nominate a replacement from his "list" of right-wing possibilities, a new poll out Friday shows that nearly 70 percent of American voters do not want a court that would allow Roe v. Wade to be overturned.
The Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that 67 percent of respondents want Roe untouched, including 81 percent of Democrats and 73 percent of independent voters. Skewing the overall reult downward, of course, are the 53 percent of Republicans polled who do favor stripping women of their right to control their own bodies – the key protection enshrined in the 1973 landmark case.
The poll also breaks down support between men and women, and showed that 68 percent of women overall—and 74 percent of women of reproductive age (18-44 years)—want Roe to be left alone.
With the political fight over Trump's appointment set to take center this summer ahead of mid-term elections in November, reproductive rights groups have vowed an impassioned fight to make sure that women's access to crucial abortion services and reproductive care is not further eroded and that protections guaranteed by Roe are protected.
Citing the reality that right-wing forces like the billionaire Koch Brothers and other anti-choice elements were mobilizing to support Trump's pending nomination, NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue on Thursday say her group is ready to beat back the assault on women and their abortion rights.
"Now we know there is a multimillion dollar campaign to make good on the promise Donald Trump made on the campaign trail to install a justice on the Court that is dedicated to overturning Roe v. Wade, criminalizing abortion, and punishing women," Hogue said on a press call. "This is not a drill. The lawsuits necessary to overturn Roe and criminalize abortion, as well as some forms of contraception, are already moving through the courts."
But, she added, "We are ready. We know that in all 50 states in this country, the majority of Americans do not want to punish women, believe in legal access to abortion, know what’s at stake, and are ready to get out and fight this. These Senators, who have been able to hide from these extreme views, are going to be put under the spotlight in the upcoming campaign, for the next days, weeks, and months, and be forced to answer for their positions and their votes like never before."
Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, called Kennedy's retirement "devastating news" that comes at just the wrong time.
"A justice committed to liberty, equality, and dignity is needed more than ever," Northrup said. "President Trump has promised to nominate Supreme Court justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade. That promise should set off alarm bells for anyone who cares about women—and the Constitution."
With Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer being told to hold the line in the U.S. Senate to block Trump's nominee until after the mid-term elections, political focus is also being aimed at so-called "moderate" Republican senators, namely Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
As the Washington Post's Seung Min Kim reports Friday, with "the GOP holding a 51-to-49 majority in the Senate, the votes of [Murkowski and Collins] will almost certainly be needed for Trump's eventual nominee to be confirmed, making them the most influential senators in the battle to replace."
With that in mind, progressives are mobilizing their forces to target the influential pair:
The only thing the people can do right now is to try to block whoever Trump nominates to replace Justice Kennedy before the election by getting in the streets and pressuring some Republicans (like Collins and Murkowski) to vote against them. Get organized. Now. #Protest4SCOTUS pic.twitter.com/ps42VR7uLh
— Thor Benson (@thor_benson) June 27, 2018
If you live in Maine, or know anyone who does, ORGANIZE. Raise your voice until this suggestion turns into a promise, and then into a vote. https://t.co/7Fmtx3tWf1
— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) June 29, 2018
Kennedy's retirement means #RoevWade is hanging dangerously in the balance. Our senators can end this nightmare & #SaveSCOTUS. Get yours on the phone NOW & demand they reject every last person on Trump's short list of potential anti-choice nominees: 1-844-515-2798 #DitchTheList pic.twitter.com/bDiyUsMLxV
— NARAL (@NARAL) June 29, 2018
"This will come down to whether or not every single Democrat in the Senate sticks together, and if we can pick up one or two Republicans as well. That is a path to victory, that is possible, but we have to focus our energy on what works, and that’s what Indivisible groups will do," said Ezra Levin, co-executive director of Indivisible, on Thursday. "In order for us to win this fight in the long-term, we have to retake the Senate. That one-two punch, defeating the nominee by holding Democrats in the Senate together now and for the next three months, and retaking the Senate in November, that is the pathway to victory."