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Because Women Cannot 'Expect the Courts to Protect Us,' Warren Calls for Federal Law to Affirm Abortion Rights at Democratic Debate

"Forty-seven years ago, Roe v. Wade was decided, and we've all looked to the courts all that time, as state after state has undermined Roe."

Democratic presidential hopeful US Senator from Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren speaks during the first Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida, June 26, 2019. (Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

In addition to demand for structural reforms to the American political and economic systems at the first 2020 Democratic primary debate Wednesday night, Sen. Elizabeth Warren said that with abortion and reproductive rights under relentless assault nationwide it is time to for Democrats to go on offense by codifying the protections of Roe v. Wade into federal law.

"It's not enough for us to expect the courts to protect us," the Massachusetts Democrat said. "Forty-seven years ago, Roe v. Wade was decided, and we've all looked to the courts all that time, as state after state has undermined Roe, has put in exceptions, has come right up to the edge of taking away protections."

Instead of counting on the high court to protect the right to abortion care, the senator said, "We need to make that a federal law."

Contrary to anti-choice rhetoric, a federal law protecting abortion rights, Warren added, would align with the views of most Americans.

"We now have an America where most people support Roe v. Wade," she said.


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The senator won praise from women's rights groups for going beyond simply defending reproductive rights and instead going on the offensive to ensure pregnant patients have the right to obtain abortion care regardless of the political leanings of the Supreme Court.

Warren's call for a federal law follows the passage of a number of state laws imposing extreme restrictions on abortion rights, including Alabama's law which bans almost all abortions in the state at any stage of pregnancy and laws in Ohio and Georgia which outlaw the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy.

Abortion must be treated as part of the standard healthcare which is available to women, Warren said.

"I would make certain that every woman has access to the full range of reproductive health care services," the senator said, "and that includes birth control, it includes abortion, it includes everything for a woman."

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