Senator Sherrod Brown Calls Supreme Court’s Abortion Decision a ‘Disaster’
ST. CLAIRSVILLE – As U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown made his way around Eastern Ohio last week, one of the most important issues on his mind was the future of a woman’s right to an abortion.
On June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision that overturned the 1973 ruling in the case known as Roe v. Wade that guaranteed women had a constitutional right to abortion. The recent ruling removed that guarantee and cleared the way for states to restrict or ban access to abortion.
“My daughters in their late 30s, early 40s and their children have fewer rights than what my wife or my late mother had,” Brown, D-Ohio, said in response to the ruling when he sat down with The Times Leader on Tuesday. He said this is because “six people on the Supreme Court – unelected people and some of them, how they got on the court was a bit questionable – can make this decision and take these rights away that the women of this country had for 50 years, and that’s just wrong.”
Brown pointed out that Ohio was one state that reacted quickly to the ruling, taking steps to enact a previously approved “heartbeat bill” that had been blocked by a federal court under Roe v. Wade. The legislation outlaws abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy, which is around the time when a fetal heartbeat can first be detected.
“In this state now, a young woman that’s raped … by the time she finds out she’s pregnant it’s too late to get an abortion,” Brown said. “And even if she goes to a doctor to talk to her about that, the doctor has fear now.”
Brown lamented that many women struggle with difficult pregnancies or have potential problems with the birth of their child, saying that doctors are going to be more and more reluctant to take care of them in those situations.
“So it’s just a disaster all the way around,” Brown noted.
Brown said the Biden Administration can “make some allowances” to reduce the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision. He mentioned that services may be available on military bases and that medications such as the “morning after pill” could still be available via the mail in states where sales are banned.
Brown believes, however, that the right to abortion needs to be guaranteed by law.
“I am convinced that if the Democrats win the House – keep the House – and we pick up two Senators, we’ll codify Roe v. Wade next year,” he said. “That’s really the plan.”
But while the topic of abortion is making headlines every day, it was not the only subject on Brown’s mind. He also had thoughts to share about high fuel prices, future resource development and learning about the region’s needs directly from the people who live here.
When asked to respond to criticisms of the Biden Administration regarding high fuel prices, Brown said the issue is not one that is exclusive to America.
“Prices have gone up worldwide on oil – they are higher in other countries than here. … Part of this is the oil companies alway, always, always use a national crisis as an excuse to raise prices way beyond what they need to do,” he said. “So, one of the things we should do is an excess profits tax on the oil industry, the big oil companies, and that money should be rebated to customers.
“Clearly, the big oil companies are making bigger and bigger profits. … Exec compensation is through the ceiling, tens of millions of dollars in some cases and millions always for their top executives,” he continued. “The country’s suffering still from what the pandemic brought, so it’s particularly important to do that” excess profits tax.
Regarding the impact of regulations on future resource development, Brown does not think they are having much of an impact.
“Some big energy giants have capped their wells to drive prices up,” he said, noting that prices would go down if production were to increase.
He also said that despite the fact that Ohio has the largest solar energy manufacturer in North America located in Toledo, there is more the state can do to promote and employ green energy.
Brown also acknowledged that Eastern Ohio does not get the attention it deserves from lawmakers in Columbus.
“State government doesn’t care about rural Ohio,” he said.
At the federal level, he said, lawmakers must remain in touch with their constituents if they are to make a difference at the local level.
“A big part of it is showing up and getting elected officials to come here and listen, then take those ideas and do something with them,” he said, noting that roundtable sessions with local leaders help him learn about the needs of the region.
Among the needs he heard about last week were “funding, funding, funding” and the ability to find qualified workers. He also expressed hope that federal infrastructure funding might be able to meet some of the transportation needs of the area.