“America needs an Attorney General who will lead with impartiality, respect the rule of law that protects access to abortion care, and hold anti-abortion extremists accountable for their actions,” said The Very Reverend Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, Interim President & CEO of the National Abortion Federation (NAF). “William Barr is not that nominee.”
Barr made his position on abortion clear during his previous confirmation hearing as the Attorney General nominee in 1991. When asked if he had a view on the right to choose, Barr said: “I do not believe the right to privacy extends to abortion, so I think that my views are consistent with the views that have been taken by the Department since 1983, which is that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and should be overruled.”
The specter of an anti-choice Attorney General also raises serious concerns that laws meant to protect abortion providers and patients from violence would not be fully enforced. “Unfortunately, we have seen that anti-abortion extremists will test the waters, checking to see what they can get away with under an anti-abortion Attorney General,” said Ragsdale.
Barr saw the violence and threats abortion providers faced during his previous terms as Deputy Attorney General and then as the U.S. Attorney General. During those years, abortion providers faced their first attempted murders and increases in arsons, attempted arsons and bombings, butyric acid attacks, and more. The first murder of an abortion provider, stoked by a culture of anti-abortion extremism, happened less than two months after Barr left office.
“We are currently seeing another spike in anti-abortion threats and violence,” said Ragsdale. “We need an Attorney General who will strongly enforce the FACE Act and help reduce threats and violence.” This escalation in violence resulted in the enactment of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE Act), an attempt to reduce the threats and violence reproductive health care providers were facing. The efficacy of this act is contingent on the Attorney General who enforces it.
“It is clear that a Department of Justice headed by Barr will not provide justice for women,” said Ragsdale. “His nomination is just one more demonstration of the influence that anti-choice activists have over President Trump.”
The National Abortion Federation (NAF) is the professional association of abortion providers. Our members include individuals, private and non-profit clinics, Planned Parenthood affiliates, women’s health centers, physicians’ offices, and hospitals who together care for approximately half the women who choose abortion in the U.S. and Canada each year. Our members also include public hospitals and both public and private clinics in Mexico City and private clinics in Colombia. Our mission is to ensure safe, legal, and accessible abortion care, which promotes health and justice for women.