Candidates react to Supreme Court overruling abortion


Navajo Presidential candidate Emily Ellison said before Roe v. Wade that the situation for women was at a very dark crossroads.

The case gave women access to healthcare to handle situations related to their bodies, said Ellison, adding that Navajo belief regarded life as sacred.

“Navajo culture has always valued life, and we continue to do that,” Ellison said.

Ellison’s opponent and Navajo presidential candidate Dineh Benally said it’s in God’s hands.

“God is in control,” he wrote in a text message on Friday and added a reference from the Bible.

Ellison said Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey praising the ruling was not surprising since the state has historically sullied equal protection of equal rights.

“Arizona is based on their behavior dominated by white nationalism; they’ve consistently attacked minority groups’ ability to participate in the political process,” Ellison said.

Ducey wrote on social media that Roe v. Wade “was a poorly-reasoned ruling that had no constitutional basis.”

“The Supreme Court has made the right decision by finally overturning it and giving governing power back to the people and states,” Ducey wrote. “I am proud that Arizona has been the most pro-life state in the country. Here, we will continue to cherish life and protect it in every way possible.”

Navajo Presidential candidate Rosanna Jumbo-Fitch wrote in an email that “every human being has the right to live.”

“The SCOTUS overturn of Roe Vs Wade: This is a major decision that has been made today,” Jumbo-Fitch wrote. “It affects many women and men’s rights, but our Dine’ families and communities may have a pro and con on this decision. As Dine’, we continue to reflect on our traditional ways of life and respect the union of marriage and childbirth.”

Jumbo-Fitch added judgment could not be made on infants not yet born.

“We can only welcome them with great love,” she wrote.

Despite the ruling, a state’s decision to ban, abort, or not does not affect federally recognized tribes, according to an 1831 Supreme Court ruling. Justice John Marshall found in the Cherokee Nation v. Georgia case, under the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause, the Cherokee Nation was not a foreign nation. The state of Georgia tried to impose state law on the Cherokee people.

Marshall ruled the Cherokee Nation was a “domestic dependent nation” under the federal government’s protection.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said the SCOTUS decision was “unconscionable.”

“Abortion is a basic and essential part of health care – and patients must have the right to make decisions about their health care and autonomy over their own bodies,” Becerra said in a statement.

Currently, Indian Health Service, which is under Becerra’s leadership, provides limited access to abortion for Native American women receiving care at IHS facilities. The Hyde Amendment, which took effect in 1980, blocks the use of federal funds to pay for abortions, outside the exceptions for rape, incest, or if the pregnancy is determined to endanger a woman’s life.

“We will double down and use every lever we have to protect access to abortion care,” he wrote.

In Arizona, the ruling has had a ripple effect. An abortion law that goes into effect will ban most abortions, and it would also ban abortions after 15 weeks of gestation, except for emergencies threatening a mother’s life or health.

The Arizona law would also prosecute physicians who break the new law, stating, “A physician who violates this law would face felony prosecution,” punishable by up to five years in prison.

The Arizona Senate Republicans secured increased funds for the 50 pregnancy centers in the state.

The state Legislature appropriated more than $42 million to support mothers with pre- and post-natal care, expand access for Medicaid members, and postpartum care to one year for mothers on Medicaid, expand the Healthy Families Program, and provide a $300 stipend in foster care.

New Mexico Gov. Heather Lujan Grisham stated the state has acted in anticipation of the SCOTUS overrule.

“We eliminated New Mexico’s antiquated trigger ban on abortion, safeguarding the right of every woman in this state to make critical decisions about their own health and to decide for themselves – and their families – when to have children,” Grisham stated. “As the laws in this country change before our very eyes, I will continue to fight for the right to a safe, legal abortion in New Mexico and stand as a brick wall against those who seek to punish women and their doctors just because they seek the care they need and deserve.”

The Navajo Times contacted President Jonathan Nez’s communications director, Jared Touchin, for comment. Touchin said Nez would provide a statement later because he was attending an event. Speaker Seth Damon’s communications director also said the speaker would comment later.

The Navajo Times also reached out to Navajo Presidential candidates Ethel Branch, Buu Nygren, and Frank Dayish Jr. for a comment, but they did not immediately respond.

About The Author

Donovan Quintero

"Dii, Diné bi Naaltsoos wolyéhíígíí, ninaaltsoos át'é. Nihi cheii dóó nihi másání ádaaní: Nihi Diné Bizaad bił ninhi't'eelyá áádóó t'áá háadida nihizaad nihił ch'aawóle'lágo. Nihi bee haz'áanii at'é, nihisin at'é, nihi hózhǫ́ǫ́jí at'é, nihi 'ach'ą́ą́h naagééh at'é. Dilkǫǫho saad bee yájíłti', k'ídahoneezláo saad bee yájíłti', ą́ą́ chánahgo saad bee yájíłti', diits'a'go saad bee yájíłti', nabik'íyájíłti' baa yájíłti', bich'į' yájíłti', hach'į' yándaałti', diné k'ehgo bik'izhdiitįįh. This is the belief I do my best to follow when I am writing Diné-related stories and photographing our events, games and news. Ahxéhee', shik'éí dóó shidine'é." - Donovan Quintero is an award-winning Diné journalist, who is based in Window Rock, Arizona. He can be contacted at


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