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House Republican chair: Dobbs anniversary is ‘opportunity to continue to strengthen culture of life’

Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 17, 2023. She spoke at the National Press Club in Washington June 20 commemorating the first anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision. (OSV News photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades, Reuters)

WASHINGTON (OSV News) — The first anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is an “opportunity to continue to strengthen the culture of life,” Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, chair of the House Republican Conference, said June 20 at an event hosted by a pro-life group in the nation’s capital to mark the occasion.

The Supreme Court issued its Dobbs ruling June 24, 2022, in a case involving a Missisppi law banning abortion after 15 weeks, where the state directly challenged the high court’s previous abortion-related precedents in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The Supreme Court ultimately overturned its own prior rulings, undoing nearly a half-century of its own precedent that held abortion to be a constitutional right. In the year since that ruling, individual states have moved to either restrict abortion or expand access to it.

Stefanik, the chamber’s No. 3 Republican and a Catholic, said at an event hosted by Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America that “this year’s anniversary of Dobbs is a moment to embrace how far we have come in this movement to protect the sanctity of life.”

“It is also an historic opportunity to continue to strengthen the culture of life in America as we look to the future,” she said.

In its reversal of Roe, Stefanik argued, the high court “restored the correct interpretation of our Constitution.”

“Twenty-five states have life-saving laws on the books, common sense policies like parental consent laws, limits on late-term abortion and informed consent provisions,” she said.

Arguing that a leak of the draft Dobbs decision the month prior to its formal release in June 2022 was “meant to intimidate and obstruct the justices,” Stefanik also took aim at Democrats for what she called an extreme position on abortion, including their opposition to Born Alive legislation, or bills that would require infants who survive failed abortion attempts to receive appropriate medical care for their gestational age.

Despite an investigation, the Supreme Court has not publicly identified the party or parties responsible for leaking the Dobbs draft to Politico, a leak unprecedented in the court’s history.

Stefanik said, “The pro-life movement can and will continue to work to save more lives and support women and families.”

She touted the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act, bipartisan legislation that extends to more nursing employees the rights to receive break time and private spaces to pump breast milk, as a pro-life accomplishment. She also argued in favor of the Care for Her Act, which provides support for pregnant mothers but has not yet been taken up by the House this term, and preserving Hyde Amendment prohibitions on public funding of elective abortions in the upcoming appropriations process.

Asked about the role of Congress versus state legislators in crafting pro-life legislation and policy, Stefanik said federal lawmakers do have a role to play.

Stefanik argued Congress should take steps to ensure “that no taxpayer dollars go towards funding abortions and also having a minimum of a 15-week bill with exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother.”

She maintained the Dobbs decision sent the matter of abortion back to elected legislators rather than the courts.

“Both the federal and state level, those are elected officials,” she said, arguing “radical judges” were not accountable to the will of Americans.

“We rightly have that back, and it’s our responsibility,” she said.

Kate Scanlon is a national reporter for OSV News covering Washington. Follow her on Twitter @kgscanlon.

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