Sen. Daines: Roe's demise would be an answer to 'millions' of prayers

Steve Daines Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), the founder and chair of the Senate Pro-Life Caucus, speaks with CNA on May 5, 2022. | Katie Yoder/CNA

If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the case that legalized abortion nationwide in 1973, the leader of the Senate Pro-Life Caucus says it will be an answer to prayer.

“I think many of us didn't think we’d lived to see the day, perhaps, when the United States Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade,” Sen. Steve Daines, the founder and chair of the Senate Pro-Life Caucus, told CNA. If the decision stands, “this is the answer, I think, to the prayers of so many millions and millions who have prayed vigilantly for this moment.”

The Montana Republican’s comments came following the leak of a draft opinion Monday night of the Supreme Court case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The Mississippi abortion case directly challenges Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which upheld Roe in 1992. If the draft, which the Supreme Court confirmed is authentic, accurately represents the court’s final decision, the issue of abortion will be up to each individual state.

“This is a moment to right historic injustice, to reverse what was a terrible opinion by the 1973 Supreme Court,” he said. “This will be a fundamental transfer of power — assuming the decision holds up — from the courts back to the American people and elected officials, and that's where it belongs.” 

He called the abortion issue “something that should be decided by those who are closest to the people.”

Said Daines: “That's our elected officials, that's the laws that the states are putting in place, have put in place, will put in place, to protect the unborn, and laws that the federal government could put in place as well." You can watch a video clip of CNA's interview below.

In response to the leak, Democratic senators have called for codifying Roe and moving forward with the Women's Health Protection Act (WHPA), a radical abortion bill that pro-life leaders warn would enshrine abortion on demand until the moment of birth in federal law, in addition to nullifying pro-life state laws.

Despite lacking the votes to move it forward, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, announced plans to hold a Senate vote next week on the WHPA, after it failed in February. At the time, Daines recognized the WHPA as the “most extreme legislation on abortion ever considered in the history of this body.”

“We need to expose the radical, radical positions the Democrats are taking,” Daines told CNA, highlighting the rarity of Democrats who identify as pro-life. “In other words, they want to codify the ability to abort a baby at any time for any reason, right up until the moment of birth,” he said.

Daines stressed again: “I think it's important we expose for the American people, the radical positions these Democrats are taking that allow abortion up until the moment of birth.” 

According to a Knights of Columbus/Marist Poll survey released in January, 83% of Americans want some kind of limit on abortion. Only 31% of Democrats, 1% of Republicans, and 19% of independents said a woman should be able to obtain an abortion at any time. And, according to a Wall Street Journal poll published in April, more voters favor the idea of a 15-week abortion ban (at issue in the Dobbs case) than oppose it.

The morning after Politico published the draft, Daines applauded the content of the draft while also condemning the leak.

“Leaking a draft opinion by the Supreme Court is unprecedented and reprehensible,” he tweeted. “There should be an immediate investigation into who is responsible as it is a clear attempt to intimidate the Court.”

Speaking to CNA, Daines called the leak “an outrageous breach of trust that was clearly orchestrated to intimidate the court" in hopes of altering the outcome of the case.

“It was a deliberate attempt to cause a political and a media firestorm to intimidate and, frankly, blow up the independence of the court,” he said. “That is a sad moment, I think I would say, in U.S. history, where this has never happened before at the United States Supreme Court.”

Pointing to the friendship of the late Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Daines emphasized that justices with different judicial philosophies still have collegiality and trust. 

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“We have got to get to the bottom of what happened there, to do our very best to restore the trust of the court,” he said. 

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