Alabama senator Jeff Sessions has been grilled so far today about everything from his stance on immigration to how he plans to act if incoming president Donald Trump violates the law during an ongoing Senate confirmation hearing for his attorney general nomination.
Unexpectedly, he pledged to uphold and “respect” Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that declared unconstitutional a state law that bans abortion. Asked by Senator Dianne Feinstein to confirm he still believes the decision was “one of the worst, colossally erroneous Supreme Court decisions of all time,” Sessions agreed, adding, “It violated the Constitution, and really attempted to set policy and not follow law.”
But, he added, “Roe v. Wade is the law of the land. It deserves respect and I will respect and follow it.” Sessions’ life-long track record on women’s rights, and particularly their right to choose to have an abortion, is poor, as Quartz has reported earlier. Among other things, Sessions:
- Voted against a resolution in support of Roe v. Wade in 1999
- Voted to defund organizations that perform abortions in 2007
- Co-sponsored a bill prohibiting taking minors across state lines for abortion and then voted to increase funding to enforce the law in 2008
- Voted in support of a bill notifying parents of minors who get out-of-state abortions in 2006
- Voted no on a plan that would have allocated $100 million in federal funding for family planning services that sought to reduce teen pregnancy through education programs and access to contraceptives in 2005
- Voted to ban partial birth abortions, except for cases in which a woman’s life is in danger in 2003
- Voted to maintain a ban on military base abortions in 2000
- Voted to prohibit federal funding for abortions in 2011
While Trump himself has flip-flopped on abortion rights, vice president-elect Mike Pence last year said he expects Roe vs. Wade to be “consigned to the ash heap of history where it belongs.” Sessions’ statements on Tuesday were greeted with skepticism by Planned Parenthood:
The attorney general nominee’s hearing is scheduled to continue through Wednesday.