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Opinion

Expect high court to reverse abortion rights

Kavanaugh’s views indicate he would support restrictions on right to choose.

Women dressed as characters from the novel-turned-TV series

Women dressed as characters from the novel-turned-TV series "The Handmaid's Tale" stand in an elevator at the Hart Senate Office Building in September as Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh starts the first day of his confirmation hearings. Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images / JIM WATSON

For the millions of women who feel violated by Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, the worst is yet to come. We should expect the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, ending reproductive choice and setting our movement for economic and bodily equality back decades.

Kavanaugh’s views on Roe indicate that, at best, he would permit government to impose harsh restrictions on a woman’s right to choose. At worst, he would join the four other GOP-appointed male justices to eradicate Roe.

When and if Roe is struck down, the fate of reproductive rights will fall to the states, a terrifying prospect. Sixteen states are immediately poised to restrict a woman’s right to choose based on existing laws.

As for New York, the birthplace of the women’s rights movement, our laws would revert to the pre-Roe dark ages. It would be permissible to criminally prosecute women who have abortions and the doctors who provide them. Women who need abortions would resort to self-induced methods or turn to unlicensed, unqualified providers, and as a result, many would die. In countries where abortion remains illegal, the leading cause of death among young women is botched abortions.

That is why the State Senate must act now to pass the Reproductive Health Act (RHA). The RHA corrects our archaic law, which criminalizes abortion, and affirms reproductive choice as a matter of privacy. The Assembly has repeatedly passed the RHA, which shifts language on abortion to public health law from the penal code, but the Senate Health Committee refuses to allow the bill to go to the floor for a vote.

In a Quinnipiac poll in July, 73 percent of New Yorkers strongly favored Roe v. Wade. This is not an issue that divides us. But the obstructionists in the Republican-led State Senate view our daughters, mothers and sisters as incapable of making decisions concerning their own bodies. They are anxious to legislate us back to a time when men controlled women’s reproductive choices.

We cannot underestimate the potential of Justice Kavanaugh and his allies on the Supreme Court to make this nightmare a reality. New Yorkers must demand that the State Senate schedule a vote on the RHA to ensure our reproductive rights are protected.

Shirley Ranz of Marine Park is the former president of the Brooklyn- Queens Chapter of the National Organization of Women.

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