The President’s war on our fundamental rights is now focused squarely on a woman’s right to choose. It comes as no surprise that a male President — distinguished by his abject disregard for women and the rights of others, generally — seeks to dismantle a well-established system of reproductive liberty and women’s self-determination that most Americans embraced for a generation.
With the retirement of United States Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, women’s reproductive rights are now in extreme jeopardy. The President has been clear that he intends to appoint a new justice who, given the chance, would join the other conservative members of the court in overturning Roe v. Wade.
A woman’s right to choose her own reproductive future is one that is bound up with not only equality, but economic and racial justice. We know that when women do not have access to reproductive health care, they lose job stability and the ability to care for their families. And we know that women of color bear the burden of health disparities, as seen by disproportionately high maternal mortality rates and double the chance of dying from cervical cancer as white women.
Despite the grim outlook for the Supreme Court, coupled with the Trump Administration’s regulatory attack on reproductive rights, this is not a time for hand wringing. Instead it is a time to strategize all the ways in which we can take action at the state level to protect a woman’s right to choose.
As Attorney General, I will be the firewall to protect against these attacks on reproductive rights. I have proposed the creation of a Civil Rights Division in the Attorney General’s Office, where we will pursue legal actions to protect reproductive rights. And I will stand ready to join with other state attorneys general to initiate lawsuits and take whatever actions necessary and appropriate to fight the Trump Administration and the far right wing’s assault on reproductive rights.
The battle to protect reproductive rights will certainly be fought in the courtroom, but that is only one venue. This battle is currently already raging in state legislatures across the country. Efforts to chip away at women’s reproductive rights happen every year, even here in Connecticut. As House Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, I saw firsthand the repeated efforts by Republicans to introduce bills targeting women’s reproductive self-determination. I can guarantee you that a change to the Supreme Court will only embolden this destructive mission.
What we must do is clear: we must stand strong as a state in affirming that women’s rights are civil and human rights, and use every tool possible to fight back against a rollback of dignity. Both in the courtroom and in the legislature, we have a responsibility to act, and we must do it now.
State Rep. William Tong of Stamford is the Democratic Party’s endorsed candidate for state attorney general.