Contenders for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on Wednesday sharply criticized the Alabama Senate’s passage of the country’s strictest abortion ban, casting it as a severe blow to women’s rights.
Alabama’s governor is expected to sign the measure, which was approved Tuesday night and would ban virtually all abortions in the state, including for victims of rape and incest.
In an interview on CNN, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said the legislation’s passage is a stark reminder to voters that they must “guarantee that women have a voice in this country, that we value women, that we respect women.” Gillibrand also said it highlighted the importance of having judges who uphold the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which legalized abortion throughout the country.
“Rolling back the clock on basic women’s human rights and civil rights, I think, has to be fought with every tooth and nail,” she said. “This is a fight that women cannot lose.”
On Thursday, Gillibrand is heading to Georgia, where she plans to speak out against a “heartbeat bill” signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp (R) on Tuesday.
Also criticizing the Alabama measure was Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), who declared at a campaign event in New Hampshire on Wednesday morning that “women’s health care is under attack, and we will not stand for it.”
“They need to check their hypocrisy,” she said of Alabama state legislators, describing them as “the same kind of people who also stand in the way of what women need in terms of a ban on preexisting conditions, to have access to issues like prenatal care.”
Several Democratic contenders warned that such moves in Alabama and elsewhere are an attempt to chip away at Roe v. Wade, casting them as indicative of Republicans’ desire to have the Supreme Court ruling overturned.
“Alabama lawmakers have voted to effectively ban abortion in the state. We see this for what it is: a direct attack on Roe v. Wade and on women all across this country,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said. “We will fight these attacks every step of the way.”
Former vice president Joe Biden criticized Republicans in Alabama, Georgia and other states where strict antiabortion measures have been passed, including Florida and Ohio, saying that they “are ushering in laws that clearly violate Roe v Wade and they should be declared unconstitutional.”
“Roe v Wade is settled law and should not be overturned. This choice should remain between a woman and her doctor,” Biden said in a tweet.
South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) said the Alabama legislature “is ignoring science, criminalizing abortion, and punishing women,” while Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) declared, “Abortion is a constitutional right.”
Emily Wax-Thibodeaux contributed to this report.