At the luncheon debate between U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert (R-8) and his Democratic challenger Darcy Burner at the Meydenbauer Center in downtown Bellevue today, panelist C.R. Douglas asked what Congress’s response should be if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.
Darcy Burner fielded the question first. After telling the audience that she and her husband decided to go through with her difficult pregnancy after her doctor told her if she continued the pregnancy she “might not survive it,” she said: “But that decision belongs to us. There is no politician on the planet that has the right to make it for me. The idea that there are politicians that think they have the right to tell people fundamental choices about what happens with their bodies is absurd.”
Okay, cool. But a predictable enough response from a pro-choice, Democratic female candidate.
But then she went on: “And I would support not only codifying Roe v. Wade into law,” she said, “but ensuring that the Constitutional right to basic decisions about oneself and one’s privacy is in fact a Constitutional Amendment.”
The 14th Amendment (equal protection), the 9th (rights retained by the people not explicitly enumerated in the Constitution), and the 4th Amendment (no unlawful search and seizure) have all been used by the Supreme Court to protect Americans’ privacy. But Burner is right that an explicit “right to privacy” is missing. Roe v. Wade is based on the due process clause of the 14th Amendment.
Guaranteeing the right to privacy in the Constitution is an unambiguous way to secure Roe v. Wade.
Her statement drew applause from the audience (a No No). The idea of a Constitutional Amendment may seem fanciful, but with polls indicating the Democrats might get up to 60 Senate seats after Election day, it could be a reality.
After the debate, I asked Burner spokesman Sandeep Kaushik why we hadn’t heard such a dramatic statement from Burner on this before. He said she really hadn’t been asked that direct question before.
Reichert told the audience: “I think everybody in this room knows where I stand on this issue.” In case they actually didn’t, he followed up by saying: “My religious belief is that life begins at conception. In this country we are all allowed to believe the way we want to believe. That’s why we call it a free country.”
He breezed over the obvious follow-up issue (should one person’s religious beliefs be allowed to determine the law for others?) and said simply, “My opponent wants to make this a major issue. When in fact, Congress has no say in Roe v. Wade.”
It was an interesting debate, covering everything from the $700 billion bailout (which Reichert voted against twice and Burner was also against—saying she disagreed with Sen. Obama on it), the federal budget, Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia, Guantanamo, trade policy, global warming, immigration, education, and even sex ed. I’ll post a longer report tomorrow.
I will say: I ran into a Democratic operative after the debate, and he was crowing that when asked about the bailout bill, Reichert acknowledged that he wasn’t an economic expert. I expect the Burner campaign will jump on that.