Gillibrand vows to only nominate judges who would uphold Roe v. Wade

By Grace Segers

/ CBS News

Georgia passes restrictive abortion bill

President Trump was elected in part because of his promise to nominate conservative judges to the federal bench. Some voters who may have otherwise been skeptical of Mr. Trump supported him on the promise that he would nominate judges who would overturn Roe v. Wade.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, one of the Democratic candidates for president, is betting she can turn out liberal voters with a similar promise: to only nominate judges who support Roe v. Wade and protecting women's reproductive rights.

"As a candidate, Donald Trump said he would punish women for accessing abortion, and as president, he's made good on that promise by stacking the Supreme Court with anti-choice extremists Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch," Gillibrand wrote in a Medium post Tuesday, referring to the two conservative justices Mr. Trump nominated to the Supreme Court.

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"The decision about if and when to start a family should be made by a woman and her doctor  —  not Republican legislators, not Brett Kavanaugh and certainly not Donald Trump," Gillibrand continued. "So today, I'm announcing that as president, I will only nominate judges — including Supreme Court justices  —  who will commit to upholding Roe v. Wade as settled law and protect women's reproductive rights."

Gillibrand has focused much of her campaign on topics traditionally considered women's issues, such as economic equality and paid family leave. She has emphasized her role as a mother in her campaign as well. Taking a stand on federal judges could help to further differentiate herself from the other 21 candidates currently running for the Democratic nomination.

Gillibrand's Medium post was published on the same day Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed the state's controversial "Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act", a piece of legislation that would ban all abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. So-called "heartbeat bills" like Georgia's have become a popular tool among states looking to reduce abortion access.

Experts say these laws aim to begin the long legal battle necessary to overturn or undermine Roe v. Wade.

In her post, Gillibrand noted that 250 bills had been proposed in 41 states to restrict abortion access in recent months.

"Republicans have been aggressively chipping away at access to reproductive health care in states across the country: Six-week abortion bans, before most women even know they're pregnant, became law in Ohio, Kentucky, Georgia and Mississippi already this year," Gillibrand said. "It's all part of one coordinated assault by Republicans who hope to overturn Roe v. Wade as soon as this year."

Kate Smith contributed to this report.

First published on May 7, 2019 / 1:51 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Grace Segers

Grace Segers is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.

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