WASHINGTON — Following the Senate Judiciary Committee’s 12-10 vote, a coalition of leaders from reproductive rights and civil rights groups called today for the withdrawal of Sarah Pitlyk’s nomination for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. The groups note that Pitlyk is one of the most extreme opponents of reproductive freedom ever nominated to be a federal judge. Even the nonpartisan American Bar Association has determined she is not qualified for a lifetime seat on the federal bench.

She brazenly opposes access to reproductive health care, having previously defended Iowa’s unconstitutional six-week abortion ban that blocks abortion before many women even know they’re pregnant. Pitlyk also opposes in vitro fertilization and surrogacy, and she has even fought for the right to discriminate against people for using birth control or becoming pregnant outside of marriage. Her entire professional reputation is built on rolling back the clock on reproductive freedom and she is no way qualified for a lifetime seat on the federal bench. On the heels of the Missouri abortion ban, we cannot afford to have Sarah Pitlyk on our courts where similar laws may come before her. Senators must do their part to protect reproductive health care in Missouri and across the country.

Statement from Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO, National Women’s Law Center (NWLC):

“Ms. Pitlyk is simply unfit to be a judge. She has made a career out of seeking to undermine access to reproductive health care. Her major and harmful role in anti-abortion legal action is extensive, from defending Iowa’s blatantly unconstitutional abortion ban to attacking the legal basis for Roe v. Wade to claiming that surrogacy has grave effects on society. It’s difficult to believe her attacks on abortion would stop if she’s confirmed to be a federal judge. Rather than upholding Supreme Court precedent, there is every reason to believe she would do everything in her power to undermine and eviscerate it.”

Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, Acting President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

“Our courts are often called upon to decide the fate of — and protect — the health and lives of the people across America. Yet Trump’s latest nominee, Sarah Pitlyk, has spent her career determined to undermine access to health care and people’s right to make their own medical decisions. Beyond working to end the right to access safe, legal abortion, Pitlyk has also worked to take away access to birth control and reproductive health care. A bipartisan organization of her peers determined that she does not have the qualifications needed for a lifetime appointment to the federal judiciary. The Senate should uphold the integrity of our courts, acknowledge that Pitlyk is unfit to judge, and refuse to move her nomination forward.”

Statement from Nan Aron, President, Alliance for Justice:

“Sarah Pitlyk has spent her entire career trying to roll back reproductive rights, and that’s exactly why she was selected for a lifetime appointment as a federal judge. Her willingness to restrict what people can do with their own bodies is particularly disturbing. It’s bad enough that she doesn’t have the requisite courtroom experience to be considered qualified by the ABA, but it’s clear from her record that she can’t be trusted to properly enforce the Constitution. No senator who votes to confirm her can credibly purport to support reproductive rights. The people of Missouri deserve better.”

Statement from Vanita Gupta, President and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights:

“Sarah Pitlyk is unqualified and unfit for a lifetime position on our federal courts. Lacking the experience required to serve has earned her a Not Qualified rating by the ABA. She has defended the most extreme, anti-abortion laws our nation has seen to date, but the ideological demagoguery that she exhibits goes far beyond her outspoken opposition to Roe. Pitlyk also chided surrogacy and IVF, demonstrating that she is willing to place ideology over equality. Nominated by a President blatantly packing the courts with people who will roll back reproductive rights, her confirmation would put people’s lives at risk. Missourians deserve better.”

Statement from Ilyse Hogue, President, NARAL Pro-Choice America:

“Sarah Pitlyk is no friend to Missouri women and families: she is not only hostile to Roe v. Wade, but also opposes surrogacy and IVF. Her appointment to the district court in Missouri is yet another example of Donald Trump paying back his debts to the anti-choice movement that got him elected. This is part of his playbook: to put judges on the bench who will spend their lifetime appointments working to end Roe and roll back abortion rights. As Missourans continue fighting the ongoing attacks on their reproductive freedom, the last thing they need is an anti-choice judge like Pitlyk.”

Statement from Sheila Katz, Chief Executive Officer, National Council of Jewish Women:

“Sarah Pitlyk’s nomination for a lifetime seat on the federal bench is a nonstarter. It is clear that she was nominated for the sole purpose of rolling back reproductive freedom rather than advancing justice and equity. Our Jewish values teach us that reproductive freedoms — including access to abortion, birth control, and assisted reproductive technology like in vitro fertilization and surrogacy — are integrally bound to religious liberty. Every person must be able to make their own moral and faith-informed decisions about their body, health, and family. In her relatively short career, Pitlyk has taken it upon herself to argue that surrogacy is ‘harmful’ and ‘a practice society should not be enforcing.’ This position strips away the right to control one’s own body. That she could soon sit on the federal bench — the ultimate backstop for our constitutional rights — is unacceptable. Her nomination must be withdrawn.”

Statement from Marge Baker, Executive Vice President for Policy and Program, People for the American Way:

“Sarah Pitlyk is an egregiously unfit nominee. She’s an extreme outlier when it comes to opposing reproductive rights; a person who once argued that landlords and employers should be able to take action against people who use birth control.  But that’s not all; the ABA rated her not qualified for a judgeship because she has virtually no courtroom experience. Of course, that isn’t the kind of credential Republicans care about these days: They care far more about conservative bona fides, which Pitlyk displayed as a leading advocate for Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation.”

For Immediate Release: October 31, 2019
Contact: LySaundra Campbell (lcampbell@nwlc.org)

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