Two of the biggest advocacy organizations on either side of the abortion debate — Planned Parenthood and Susan B. Anthony List — are making the fight to fill Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s seat all about abortion.
Both groups told BuzzFeed News Wednesday that they will pour resources into the Supreme Court battle, casting the open seat as critical to the survival — or overturning — of Roe v. Wade.
“The significance of today’s news cannot be overstated: The right to access abortion in this country is on the line. President Trump has promised to only appoint justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade,” read a statement from Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser agreed, saying in a statement that Kennedy’s retiring “marks a pivotal moment for the fight to ensure every unborn child is welcomed and protected under the law.”
And it’s understandable why. Many advocates on both sides of the issue saw Kennedy as the sole blockade preventing the court from overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion throughout the country.
Both groups are poised to pour resources into the fight over the next justice on the court, much as they did for President Donald Trump’s previous Supreme Court pick, Justice Neil Gorsuch.
SBA List Vice President of Communications Mallory Quigley told BuzzFeed News that the group had already gotten started, just hours after Kennedy’s decision became public. Quigley pointed to the group’s grassroots organizing in support of Gorsuch, saying that similar efforts could be expected for the president’s next choice.
“We had rallies, press conferences outside the Capitol, and outside … senators’ offices urging them to confirm the justice,” Quigley said. “We’ve already touched base with all of the people on the pro-life coalition that we rallied during the last fight, which includes national and state pro-life groups, to start mobilizing people on the ground.”
Quigley added that SBA List supports all of the names on the president’s list of potential nominees.
Planned Parenthood confirmed to BuzzFeed News Wednesday that the organization would spend money on the Supreme Court seat and “fight for our health and rights in the country.” But the group said it could not yet get into specifics.
Since Republicans took over the majority in Congress and Trump was elected president, state legislators have been introducing and passing bold anti-abortion laws that they were well-aware would quickly be challenged in court, in the hopes that such an opportunity would come up.
The hope for anti-abortion legislators is that by the time these lawsuits reach the Supreme Court, the court would be stacked with enough anti-abortion justices to side with them and greatly limit abortion rights in the US — if not eliminate them on a national level entirely.
During his campaign, Trump repeatedly promised that he would choose anti-abortion judges for the nation’s highest court, even signing his name to a letter along with SBA List, promising to “nominate pro-life justices to the US Supreme Court,” should he be elected. The president said Wednesday he would select a nominee from "that list of 25 people” he has publicly considered for a Supreme Court seat.