The Pen

“White House Office of Reproductive Freedom,” Democrat Candidates Promise Roe vs. Wade Law

Pro–abortion rights activists at a rally in Salt Lake City Tuesday. Natalie Behring | AFP | Getty Images

In just one week, a policy proposal on abortion went from relative obscurity to being a major part of the platforms of the majority of Democrats running for president: codifying the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling that made abortion legal nationwide, Roe v. Wade.

As most of the candidates define it, this means making access to legal abortion federal law by passing legislation in Congress, even if the Supreme Court ends up overturning Roe v. Wade.

It’s not a new idea. It has been tossed around for years by abortion rights advocates and politicians, gained some popularity after Trump was elected in 2016, and was introduced unsuccessfully in Congress in 2013 and again in 2017. But over the past few weeks, as more and more states passed laws that would greatly restrict abortion access — coming to a head with Alabama’s near-total ban on abortion — voters have flooded the internet and the streets, seeing this trend as a quickening path to destroying the national right to abortion access.

Roe v. Wade being overturned once seemed nearly impossible for abortion rights activists, so the legislation flew relatively under the radar. But now, as lawsuits challenging restrictive state abortion laws make their way through the courts, and with two conservative Trump-appointed Supreme Court justices who have both expressed anti-abortion views in the past, the threat to Roe v. Wade is beginning to seem real and imminent.

In an interview with BuzzFeed News last week, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker became one of the first 2020 presidential candidates to propose codifying Roe as his official platform on abortion. He was quickly followed by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who published a Medium poston Thursday, May 16, putting “codify[ing] Roe v. Wade into law” as point one on her “plan to truly go on offense to guarantee women’s civil rights.”

The next day, Sen. Elizabeth Warren followed suit with another Medium post, called “Congressional Action to Protect Choice,” which also placed codifying the equivalent of Roe v. Wade as the first item in her plan for Congress to “pass new federal laws that protect access to reproductive care from right-wing ideologues in the states.”

By Tuesday this week, the campaigns of 21 of the 24 Democrats running for president told BuzzFeed News in emailed statements their candidate supported codifying Roe v. Wade through laws in Congress. (Bill de Blasio and Tulsi Gabbard did not respond; Wayne Messam’s campaign said he considered Roe v. Wade “settled law” but did not respond to the question about supporting the legislation.)

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[Editor’s Note: This article was written by Ema O’Conner and originally published at BuzzFeed News. Title changed by P&P.]