Not surprisingly, Last Week Tonight host John Oliver wasted no time addressing the topic that has been at the forefront of the news cycle since Friday: the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that made abortion legal in 1973.
On Sunday’s edition of his HBO show, Oliver said the move is “absolutely horrifying” given that about half of the 50 U.S. states are likely to ban abortion.
“It is hard to stomach some of the gleeful responses right now,” Oliver said, pointing to the Texas attorney general’s office decision to close its offices on Friday at noon and declaring June 24 an annual holiday for the office going forward. “You don’t get a holiday to celebrate the loss of rights for millions of people when you already have one, and it’s called Columbus Day,” Oliver said.
He also noted former Vice President Mike Pence’s statement, which read, in part, “Today, life won.” Said Oliver, “[This] is pretty tough to take given that for some, especially disabled people and other vulnerable groups, forced pregnancy could be a death sentence.”
He also shot down arguments from supporters of the reversal that adoption or having an abortion in a state where it’s allowed are “reasonable” alternatives.
“Even when planned, pregnancy is, best cast scenario, a major medical event that rips open your butt, rips out your organs and then puts them in wrong,” he said, adding: “The idea that you can simply seek another abortion in another state is insulting on its face even before you consider that some lawmakers are already openly looking for ways to punish out-of-state abortions.”
Oliver also argued that this is not going back to the “pre-Roe days,” as some people have said, but instead it’s actually “uncharted territory” given that in states where abortion will now be banned, any loss of pregnancy could be investigated as a criminal act. This means that investigators could access electronic data, search histories, text messages and the like if they suspect someone had an abortion — something that was obviously not available before the 1973 ruling.
“What the Supreme Court has just done is utterly devastating,” Oliver said, adding: “The message that the Supreme Court sends is pretty clear: We don’t care if pregnancy kills you, we don’t care if you don’t want to be pregnant, we don’t care about you at all.”
He added that the response from pro-choice politicians has been disappointing, ranging from asking for donations from supporters to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reading poetry.
“When they go low, we ask for $15,” Oliver quipped, putting a spin on the famous quote from former first lady Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.