Josh Hawley Clarifies Position on Federal Abortion Ban

Senator Josh Hawley has said he is not in favor of a federal ban on abortions if Roe v. Wade is overturned and that the matter should be left to individual states.

The Republican, who represents Missouri, told St. Louis' 5 On Your Side that the landmark Supreme Court ruling in 1973 had "created a constitutional right that doesn't exist."

His comments come after the leak of a draft Supreme Court majority opinion that would strike down Roe v. Wade and potentially lead to abortion becoming illegal in many states across the country.

The Court has not issued its formal ruling on the issue of a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks but the leaked draft led to celebration from those opposed to abortion and outrage from those who believe abortion should be legal.

Josh Hawley Speaks During a Committee Hearing
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee business meeting to vote on Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on April 4, 2022. Hawley has said he would not immediately support a federal abortion ban should Roe v. Wade be overturned. Win McNamee/Getty Images

Mark Maxwell, 5 On Your Side's political editor, asked Hawley if he would support a federal ban on abortion.

"No, I don't support a federal ban on abortion after Roe vs. Wade, if it's overturned in the first instance," Hawley said.

"I mean, I think that what needs to happen first is Congress can look for areas where there's national consensus and act on those, and then the people in our states, beginning with the people of Missouri, will finally get an opportunity to weigh in. And I think that's as it should be, and then Congress can act where consensus is. But in the first instance, I would not support a federal ban on all abortions," the senator said.

Maxwell mentioned a CBS News report that said up to 26 states could make abortion illegal if Roe v. Wade is overturned, while many do not provide paid family leave or cover healthcare for new mothers through Medicaid. He asked whether the government should provide more support for women who have unplanned pregnancies.

"Well, if you're asking me about what the states should do, that's going to be up to the states and the voters in the states and I think that says it should be," Hawley said.

"I mean, here's the bottom line on Roe: Roe created a constitutional right that doesn't exist, and it took out of the people's hands their decisions, their choices as it relates to abortion and to life. I mean, this is a question on which the Constitution is silent," the senator said.

"And so it's up to the people to decide it," he went on. "And I imagine that you're going to see a lot of different approaches in different states. And that's fine. I mean, we're going to have a national debate on this issue. And we'll have it state by state, which is exactly as it should be."

"And so I look forward to seeing how that debate goes," Hawley said. "I'm 100 percent pro life myself. So I'd support measures that support life and that keep children safe, the unborn safe, who I think are the most vulnerable among us. But I think it'd be a great debate to have."

Newsweek has asked Josh Hawley's office for comment.