January marked the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade — and many don’t expect the case’s precedent to survive to 50 as the Supreme Court weighs a case that could overturn the landmark ruling on the right to legal abortion. Rep. Katherine Clark, assistant House speaker and Mass. Fifth District representative, recently spoke out in support of Roe v. Wade, not just on a matter of policy, but from personal experience.
Clark joined Boston Public Radio Tuesday to discuss her Boston Globe opinion piece about her miscarriage, as well as federal unemployment overpayments and her hopes for the future of the Democrats legislative agenda in the leadup to midterm elections.
“These are personal heartbreaks,” Clark said about the current threat to Roe v. Wade. “There is so much more to women's healthcare that is at stake here.”
Years ago, during a regular prenatal visit, doctors found that Clark’s pregnancy was no longer viable. While many people in this situation miscarry at home, some — including Clark — require procedures to remove the fetal tissue, to avoid a potentially fatal infection. “It was quick, it was professional, it was done compassionately,” she said.
Clark worries that similar procedures will not be available if the Supreme Court overrules Roe v. Wade, especially for people in marginalized communities. “I am a white woman who has great health insurance and coverage and the ability to pay for it,” she said. “A lot of this will always be open to me, but for low-income women, women of color, who already face huge barriers, this can really be so restrictive on their lives.”
The congresswoman emphasized that the stakes are high. “This is going to have a ripple effect throughout our healthcare system and throughout our communities,” Clark said. “This is going to be another rather terrifying inflection point.”
Blanket waivers of unemployment overpayment is “a possibility”
State and federal authorities are trying to get back at least $2.7 billion in unemployment payments accidentally overpaid to citizens during the pandemic, who followed the rules, believed they received the correct money and often already spent it. Clark said initial conversations about a federal response to unemployment overpayments appear bipartisan.
Clark added that blanket forgiveness is “a possibility.” “We have to try,” she said. “People feel like the system is stacked against them, because the system is stacked against them.
“These payments went out and we have to really think about how we do this fairly, that doesn’t cause further pain in our community,” she said.
The Senate filibuster is the “number-one impediment” to progress
Clark said she is proud of the work the House Democrats have done in recent months but is frustrated with the inability to get bills through the Senate. “The number-one impediment to progress right now is the filibuster in the Senate,” she said. “The House keeps delivering from our most liberal member to our most conservative member,” pointing to the House Democrats passing voting rights legislation and investigating the Jan. 6 insurrecton.
Clark added that she maintains hope for the future of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, perhaps through smaller pieces of legislation.
Still, a recent CNN poll showed that nearly 6 in 10 Americans disapprove of Biden’s presidency and that the president’s ratings have dropped since he took the role.
Clark pointed to the pandemic as “unprecedented times” as a factor in the midterms. “This midterms is going to be challenging,” she said. “We are a divided country, but I am proud of the work that Democrats in the House have been able to do, and we are going to show the American people that we understand the challenges they're facing and we are providing solutions.”
Clark is the assistant House speaker and represents the Fifth District of Massachusetts.
Original story HERE