Through this wild week of news, one of the more disturbing storylines seems to be getting lost in the ether: Neil Gorsuch’s pro-life record. Both on the campaign trail and during the transition, President Donald Trump vowed to appoint a Supreme Court justice to replace the late Antonin Scalia who would overturn Roe v. Wade. During the third presidential debate Trump said, “I am pro-life,” and that if he were elected president, that the legality of abortions would, "go back to the individual states."
President Trump repeated this assertion in an interview with 60 Minutes’ Leslie Stahl, who pressed him on the issue. President Trump reiterated that he is indeed pro-life and that if the Roe v. Wade ruling is overturned, the decision to legalize abortions would be left up to individual states. Stahl responded correctly to President Trump, "Then some women won't be able to get an abortion.” Instead of acting with empathy, President Trump stated plainly, "Yeah. Well perhaps they have to go to another state." That’s easier said than done when you are worth nearly $1 billion, Mr. President.
This is why it is not surprising that President Trump appointed a judge like Neil Gorsuch who is clearly pro-life. Gorsuch has not yet explicitly ruled on abortion, but in his 2006 book The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, Gorsuch said, “human life is intrinsically valuable and intentional killing is always wrong.” He also clerked for Supreme Court Justice Byron R. White who was extremely critical of Roe v. Wade. In 1986, in his dissent of Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, White famously referred to abortion as the death of a person. Gorsuch mentioned this dissent in his book.
Gorsuch has twice provided decisions on the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage requirement. In 2013, Gorsuch supported Hobby Lobby, who objected to the law requiring no-cost contraception coverage to its employees. He cited government overreach in his opinion, “This sort of governmental pressure to compromise an article of religious faith is surely sufficient.” Two years later, Gorsuch again ruled against the ACA’s contraception mandate in the Little Sisters of the Poor case.
Countless conservative groups have lined up in favor of the Gorsuch appointment. Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement, “President Trump has kept his promise to nominate only pro-life judges to the Supreme Court. Judge Gorsuch is a distinguished jurist with a strong record of protecting life and religious liberty, as evidenced by his opinions in the Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor cases, and in his doctoral dissertation in which he wrote that ‘human life is fundamentally and inherently valuable.’” National Right to Life and the Judicial Crisis Network have also announced support. Paul Ryan, too, has praised the pick, citing Gorsuch’s, “strong commitment to life.”