While Roe v. Wade currently guarantees an American's right to an abortion, the historic decision has been in jeopardy throughout the Trump administration. It turns out, a new administration nominee shared his thoughts about the landmark case back in 1992 — and his stance is worrisome for those who support reproductive rights. Attorney general nominee William Barr's Roe v. Wade comments, which outline his belief that the decision will "fall," will likely play a role in his upcoming Senate confirmation hearing.
"I think that Roe v. Wade will ultimately be overturned," Barr said almost three decades ago on Evans and Novak, a since-canceled CNN show, according to CNN. "I think it'll fall of its own weight. It does not have any constitutional underpinnings."
Barr made this comment in a discussion about Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1992 case that upheld the original Roe v. Wade decision. Three of the justices who ruled in favor of reproductive rights in Planned Parenthood v. Casey — Sandra Day O'Connor, Anthony Kennedy, and David Souter — were placed on the court by Republican presidents. Barr, in his CNN interview, said they were "so-called moderate justices" who were "wrong" to uphold Roe.
"I think they were wrong to do it," Barr told CNN. "I think they should have stuck with the Constitution."
At the time of the interview, Barr was the United States attorney general — the same position he's currently nominated for. As Rewire.News reported, Barr's previous tenure in the position, which lasted from 1991 until 1993, featured several moments in which he expressed his strong disagreement with abortion rights. In one instance, he said abortion came from secular "fanatics" who were ruining the “Judeo-Christian moral tradition” of the country, according to Rewire.News.
While he was the deputy attorney general, the Justice Department asked a federal judge to remove an injunction against a group of anti-abortion protestors who had blocked the entrance to an abortion clinic in Kansas — a move he defended at his confirmation hearing to become attorney general the first time around, according to The Washington Post.
During his 1991 confirmation hearing, Barr didn't hold back in expressing his view that Roe had not been decided correctly.
"I do not believe the right to privacy extends to abortion," Barr said in 1991, according to CNN. "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."
Barr's potential confirmation as the attorney general for a second time around should have supporters of reproductive rights worried, as NARAL Pro-Choice America wrote in a statement.
"Barr has stated his hostility to women’s constitutional right to abortion loudly and clearly," the NARAL statement on Barr's nomination read. "If confirmed as Attorney General, he will have the power to enact his anti-choice beliefs and directly threaten the freedom and equality of women and families all across our nation."
Planned Parenthood also came out staunchly against Barr's nomination.
“The attorney general is tasked with upholding our nation’s laws and protecting our rights and freedoms — including the constitutional right to safe, legal abortion," wrote Dana Singiser, the Planned Parenthood's vice president of public policy and government affairs, in a statement. "The fact that William Barr does not believe in a woman’s constitutional right to abortion is disqualifying from the start."