CNN legal analyst Laura Coates claimed Wednesday evening that no one actually wanted the Supreme Court to be “neutral.”
Coates joined CNN anchor Don Lemon and senior political analyst Nia Malika Henderson to discuss the Supreme Court’s oral arguments in what could be the next landmark abortion case — Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization — which addresses a Mississippi state ban on all abortions after 15 weeks.
Lemon began the conversation with a discussion about physical access to abortion, claiming that a number of states would ban abortions altogether if the court was to overturn previous landmark decisions Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
“I want to put up this map, Laura. If the court was to reverse Roe v. Wade, 26 states are certain, are likely to ban abortion almost immediately. Take Louisiana as an example. The nearest clinic for three in five women would be in Illinois. And for the rest of the women, it would be Kansas or North Carolina,” Lemon said, asking Coates who would be most likely to feel the impact of such a move.
Coates argued that the disparate impact would be felt primarily by those who could not afford to travel in order to obtain medical care — and who could least afford to remain pregnant.
“People who do not have the resources to do it. It will fall disparately on women of color and people of color in general who are more likely to fall in that category. This is not to suggest — and I want to be very clear — whenever I heard this argument be made that abortion restriction also overwhelmingly impact women of color and black women, it’s not to suggest and nor should anyone suggest that only black women or women of color are having abortions. This is a very universalized experience for women,” Coates replied.
Coates went on to argue against Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s line of questioning in which she said that safe haven laws would allow women to give up their responsibilities as a parent, saying it was not the same thing as being able to terminate a pregnancy.
“It’s a fundamental misconception of what is being talked about, the idea you’re going to say as long as you can terminate parental rights and put your child up for adoption, that is the same thing as being able to have the choice and agency to terminate one’s pregnancy is so flawed,” she continued.
“So is Justice Kavanaugh’s thought here, Don, where he suggests that maybe the Supreme Court just ought to be neutral. Well, ‘I want a Supreme Court that’s neutral,’ said no one ever,” Coates added. “The whole role of the judicial nine is to be able to be decisive and make decisions where the lower courts particularly have conflict. And in Mississippi, there has been no conflict. Courts have said, the lower courts have said it’s unconstitutional. So by virtue of even taking this case, Don, you already see the leanings.”
Lemon agreed, saying that the argument should be about resources and who had access to them.
“It affects women. It affects women,” Coates repeated. “It affects women, and women ought the have the same rights as men. No one is curtailing the use of vasectomies. No one is talking about what men are able to do. So just to put it in the language of how it only will impact one race or another, it impacts the gender that is women.”
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