Times Chronicle & Public Spirit

Rep. Dean arrested protesting abortion ruling

She and 16 others were charged with blocking the street outside Supreme Court

- By Evan Brandt ebrandt@pottsmerc.com

U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-4th Dist., was among 17 House Democrats arrested Tuesday while protesting in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building over the court’s decision overturnin­g Roe v. Wade.

Dean and the others were arrested after sitting down and blocking the street. She was not arrested for protesting, but for obstructin­g the street.

“They knew we were going to do it,” Dean said of the police.

“We were not trying to surprise anyone,” she said from Washington Tuesday afternoon after being processed and released with a citation.

Her citation carries a $50 fine. But, she said, it is a small price to pay to protest a court decision that turns all American women, including herself, her three daughters-in-law, and three granddaugh­ters “into second-class citizens.”

“They are being stripped of their rights. It’s grotesque,” she said.

Dean noted that her oldest granddaugh­ter is 10, the same age as an Ohio rape victim who, due to Ohio’s activated abortion law that bans almost all abortions after about six weeks, had to cross state lines to terminate a pregnancy resulting from the rape. It’s a case that has sparked a national conversati­on about the consequenc­es of the Supreme Court’s ruling.

The decision last month that overturned 50 years of legal prec

edent has energized both sides of the aisle not just in national races, but in state races in which candidates have staked out clear positions on what state abortion laws they would support or oppose if elected.

Twenty-six states are likely or certain to ban abortion after the fall of Roe, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproducti­ve rights group.

One of the most high-profile of those races, where abortion is effectivel­y on the ballot, is for the governor’s mansion here in Pennsylvan­ia.

Republican gubernator­ial candidate Doug Mastriano, who as a state senator has supported a law banning nearly all abortions with no exceptions for rape, incest or endangerin­g the life of the mother, is being opposed by state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat who has focused much of his early campaignin­g on what he calls Mastriano’s extreme position on the issue.

If elected governor, Shapiro has vowed to veto any state law banning abortion.

“This unjust, un-Constituti­onal ruling is having immediate impacts of the lives of women and girls,” Dean said.

She said it is putting their lives in danger by putting the decision in the hands of state legislatur­es “where mostly white men are trying to exercise power over women’s lives.”

The impacts will be felt on the individual level all the way up to damaging our standing in the world, said Dean.

She said the House first passed a bill to protect abortion rights in September 2021 before the court ruling, and again on July 15 after the ruling.

“But we don’t have a partner in the Senate, which is hiding behind the filibuster,” she said.

Asked if she had any views on Democrats’ failure to enact such protection­s in years when they had the presidency and a greater majority in both houses, Dean said simply, shame on them.

“I don’t think anyone saw really thought this would happen, although we certainly should have,” she said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, has made no secret of his plans to move the federal judiciary to the right, she conceded.

McConnell’s maneuverin­g and his refusal as Senate Majority leader to hold hearings on President Barrack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the court seven months before the presidenti­al election of 2016, but his willingnes­s to hold hearings and a vote on President Donald Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett just two months before the 2020 election, cemented a conservati­ve super-majority on the court that now threatens to overturn other rights won through court decisions, said Dean.

That’s why this election is so important, Dean said, to add Democrats to the Senate and remove the filibuster that sets a 60-vote threshold for successful legislatio­n.

Dean, a resident of Abington, is on the ballot in November, facing Republican challenger Christian Nascimento of Lower Providence.

Although he makes no mention of abortion on his campaign website, Nascimento responded to a questionna­ire from PAFamily. org and in which he indicated Planned Parenthood and other organizati­ons that perform abortions should not get federal funding, and that the federal government should limit abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

Dean did not respond to that questionna­ire, however, her campaign website lists women’s “unequivoca­l right to control their own bodies” as being among her priorities.

How much of an impact the issue has on the race for the 4th District race will be determined by the voters in November. Nationally, the court’s decision has moved the issue up people’s priority lists, according to a poll released this month.

On July 1, The Associated Press reported results from a new poll taken in the wake of the court’s decision showing a growing percentage of Americans calling out abortion or women’s rights as priorities for the government.

“The new poll, which included interviews conducted before and after the Supreme Court’s ruling, finds prioritiza­tion of the issues grew sharply following the decision,” AP reported.

Axios reported that the 16 House Democrats arrested alongside Dean protesting were Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (DN.Y.), Rep. Cori Bush (DMo.), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), Rep. Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.), Rep. Rashida Tlaib (DMich.), Rep. Andy Levin (DMich.), Rep. Alma Adams (D-N.C.), Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (DIll.) and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), who organized the event.

Dean said she was asked a few days ago by Speier if she would like to participat­e in Tuesday’s protest and, an admirer of the late civil rights icon John Lewis, she replied that she is always “up for good trouble” for a good reason.

Asked by a reporter if the group of Democrats is planning future actions along a similar vein, Speier said simply “stay tuned.”

“The Supreme Court,” said Dean, “will not have the last word.”

 ?? IMAGE COURTESY OF OFFICE OF U.S. REP. MADELEINE DEAN ?? U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, left, and Massachuse­tts Rep. Rep. Ayanna Pressley are led away by a police officer after being arrested in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building.
IMAGE COURTESY OF OFFICE OF U.S. REP. MADELEINE DEAN U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, left, and Massachuse­tts Rep. Rep. Ayanna Pressley are led away by a police officer after being arrested in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building.

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