‘Life is in fact valuable’: Mike Lee defends the unborn at Barrett confirmation

Roe v. Wade placed abortion ‘beyond the realm of political debate within the federal judiciary, such that elected lawmakers were no longer in a position to be the primary drivers of policy.’
Tue Oct 13, 2020 - 3:33 pm EST
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Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) at the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett on October 13, 2020 C-SPAN / YouTube

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 13, 2020 — During today’s confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barret, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) passionately defended legal protections for the unborn. He also argued that lawmakers, not unelected judges, should make decisions about abortion. 

“Life is in fact valuable. It’s not a religious statement to make that observation. In fact, it’s the foundation of basically all of our laws,” Lee said, “not just in this country, not just in in countries with Christian origins, but in basically every country that has ever existed anywhere in the world.” 

“The purpose of government is to protect life,” he added. “That’s what it’s about. 

Lee argued that decisions on abortion ideally should not be made by the Supreme Court, but by elected lawmakers, saying that “if we’re going to leave those things perpetually in the hands of the unelected, it might be really convenient for political fundraising within Congress. But it’s not good for the United States of America. It’s not good for a constitutionally limited government. It’s not good for our individual liberties.” 

“Disputes regarding abortion didn’t begin with Roe v. Wade,” the senator explained. “What did change with Roe v. Wade, however, was the federalization and the grasping of the issue and the taking it beyond the realm of political debate within the federal judiciary, such that elected lawmakers were no longer in a position to be the primary drivers of policy.” 

“As a result, over the last few decades, you’ve had all kinds of questions that have been put into uncertainty,” he continued. “You’ve got uncertainty by people at the state level who want to make their own decisions about certain things around abortion. They know they can’t prohibit it entirely. They know that there’s this undue burden standard that has to be addressed.” 

Lee mentioned that while “nobody’s completely sure in advance what that means,” many states “work around it” on issues like “health and safety qualifications for abortion clinics, how close an abortion clinic needs to be to an accredited hospital, how it needs to be staffed, and what the sanitation protocols are.” 

The senator also said that some states have passed laws in light of “abundant medical science showing that an unborn human can feel and respond to pain” as early as “10 or 12 gestational weeks.” 

“If we can’t agree on the fact that it’s reasonable that people ought to be able to have some say, at least at some limit, at least at some point beyond the moment when an unborn human can feel and respond to pain, then something’s wrong with us,” said Lee. 

“The legitimacy of those laws are [sic] thrown into the federal courts yet again — all because those were made federal issues,” Lee concluded. 

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He also appeared to address concerns voiced by some Democratic senators that the confirmation of Barrett will lead to tightened abortion restrictions across the country. 

“You’d have the impression from Washington debates, and in protests outside the Supreme Court of the United States — you’d have the impression that if Roe v. Wade didn’t exist, that all of a sudden abortion would immediately become illegal in every state in America. That assumes a lot of facts not in evidence. In fact, that assumes a lot of things contrary to evidence,” Lee said. 

Lee pointed out that “the availability of an abortion or lack thereof” is not contingent “upon anyone’s confirmation to the Supreme Court of the United States.” 

He pointed out that “the fate of health care in America” doesn’t turn “on whether or not someone is confirmed to the Supreme Court of the United States. Nor is it a fact to suggest that the availability of an abortion or lack thereof” depends upon a Supreme Court nomination. 

According to Lee, the ongoing “personal” and “ugly” discussion about abortion proves that “we’ve tried to take a debatable matter beyond debate, and we’ve tried to take it outside the political branches of government, where people can elect their individual representatives, and have laws respecting and reflecting the views of their respective communities.” 

  abortion, amy coney barrett, mike lee, supreme court

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