Wendy Hamilton says she will fight with all the power she has to stop abortion rights from being overturned in the United States
The abortion debate is at the forefront of the United States after Politico released a leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft decision on Monday showing a majority of justices voted to overturn Roe v. Wade.
If the 1973 ruling is reversed, the right to abortion would no longer be constitutionally guaranteed in the United States and states would be free to pass their own abortion laws.
About two dozen states already have laws, or have promised laws, that would reduce or end access to abortion if Roe is struck down.
Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the project was genuine in a statement, calling the leak a “singular and flagrant violation”.
Politico notes that the draft decision is not final and that “judges can and sometimes do change their votes.” A final decision is expected before the end of June.
Shortly after the leak, pro-choice and anti-abortion protesters confronted outside the United States Supreme Court in Washington.
Hamilton — an ordained and hardworking education minister who is running as the Democratic candidate for Congress in the District of Columbia — was there. Here is part of his conversation with As it happens guest host Helen Mann.
What was your first reaction when you saw this decision leaked last night?
I could not believe it. It was a shock. It was outrage.
I had just got home and thought I was going to relax, took off my shoes, opened Twitter, saw Roe v. Wade get knocked down, put my shoes back on and head straight to the Supreme Court because I just couldn’t stay in the house at the time.
Tell me about those moments, those hours after you put on those running shoes and went to the Supreme Court. How was it outside that building last night?
I just wanted to be with people who I know felt the same way. I had no sign with me. I had nothing.
So it was just groups of people looking at each other solemnly and that. But as the crowd started to grow, and certainly when pro-life protesters showed up and challenged the rest of the crowd, it started and erupted. Then the energy started going and we were kind of going head to head.
If this draft judgment is finally passed by a majority of the justices of the court, what does that mean for women across the United States?
What this ultimately means is that it depends on your condition. So depending on the position of your states, you know, they can put certain things in place. I’ve seen California before. They have already risen. The governor and a few others, they will present a resolution to codify it [the right to abortion] in California.
But if you’re in more conservative states like Alabama and need an abortion for a medical condition…you have to drive 1,100 miles to Illinois to meet your health care needs. And that’s where it’s going to be a problem.
And especially with maternal mortality rates among African American women which are very high. It is [Black] Maternal Health Week. We just adopted that for black women. You are therefore endangering the health of black women and women of color by suggesting that [based on] where they might live, they cannot meet their health care needs because of how you might feel about a particular problem.
It’s not safe, it’s not human and it won’t last.
How do you think this will affect US policy?
It will really show us what we are made of. Honestly, if we’re actually going to put our money where our mouths are or where our votes are. And I say that as a Democratic candidate, but for Democrats in particular.
Right now in the United States we have a Democratic House, we have a Democratic Senate, and we have the Presidency. We have the three chambers of government. There’s no reason why Joe Biden, my president, didn’t get up this morning and decide we were going to end it. the buccaneer and we’ll make sure to codify Roe c. Wade and other things — voting rights, equality law [for LGBT people].
All of these things that the Democrats promised to make possible for Americans are blocked by Republican senators who won’t vote for any of them, and the filibuster, as it is organized. So that gives the Democrats an opportunity to step in now and do what they said they were going to do, because that’s what we voted them for. It’s their time.
It’s time for President Biden to prove his mettle as a Democratic president who ran on promises to protect Roe v. Wade, to pass these human rights laws that we’re talking about. It’s his time. If he does not meet this challenge, it will set us back decades.
It’s not just Joe Biden, is it? I want to say, [former] President [Barack] Obama once promised to codify that as well and didn’t end up following through. So as a Democrat, when you look at the party you support, do you feel like they dropped the ball on that a long time ago? That they somehow failed to protect the right to abortion?
Let’s say that no party is perfect. And although I’m a Democrat, I run based on politics and who’s going to get things done. And so I’m not going to denigrate one party over the other, because it takes two to tango, right?
So yes, absolutely. Obama said he was going to do the same, but there was a Republican Congress. There was only the Democratic House and the Senate for the first part of his presidency. And he was pulling us out of a quagmire that we had just come out of [former U.S. president George W.] Bush.
It is possible that President Biden is facing the same circumstances as Obama and has in fact [an] even worse situation and lose both houses. I’m just wondering: you said you’re not going to let this happen, but what can you really do to stop it?
When I say I’m going to stop him, I mean whatever I can do. Right now, I’m not necessarily in a strong position in Congress to be able to vote one way or the other.
But I live here in the District of Columbia, so I have the ability to come down and plead, protest, show up like I did last night, do online outreach, whatever it is should. I just need to feel like I’m not sitting at home and letting this historic moment pass without making every effort to prevent it from happening.
I am just one person. But there’s power in numbers, and I’m not the only one.
Written by Sheena Goodyear with files from CBC News. Interview conducted by Chris Harbord. The questions and answers have been edited for length and clarity.