Tennessee Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen on Thursday declared that Canada has supplanted the United States as the "freest country in the world" because some states are now preventing women from killing their unborn babies at will.
During a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the impact of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, Cohen took issue with a pro-life witness' statement that America is the freest country in the world.
"I love America. I'm an American and I love America and love this country, but they said we're the freest country in the world ... well, right now, Canada is the freest country in the world," Cohen said via teleconference.
"And there are a few other countries along with Canada that are more free than America, when you cut women away from having the opportunity to get their families and their bodies to be their choices," he added.
In its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution does not grant a federal right to abortion and that each state legislature holds the power to pass laws permitting or restricting abortion. Elected representatives will make these laws as they see fit, according to the will of their constituents as expressed at the ballot box.
In the wake of the court's decision, several states with Republican-controlled legislatures have activated trigger laws banning or restricting abortion, while Democrat-led states have sought to expand abortion access and protect women who travel to states where abortion is legal to terminate their pregnancies.
But Cohen insisted that arguments that the Supreme Court did not outlaw abortion were a "red herring."
"The fact is, in the hard-core red states of the southeast, one time known as the Confederacy, there is but one or two states that would not ban abortion entirely. And those states did not offer many votes for the civil rights laws," the Democratic lawmaker said, asserting that all arguments for states' rights are descended from the defense of slavery in the mid-19th century.
"Slavery was wrong. Outlawing abortion is wrong. And outlawing gay marriage is wrong," Cohen declared, finishing his remarks.
"Mr. Cohen is wrong!" Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) exclaimed after he was recognized to speak next. "Canada is not the most free country in the world, young people. America is the greatest nation in the world."
Johnson went on to praise the Supreme Court's decision but was interrupted by Cohen, who demanded that he yield back.
"I will not yield, Mr. Cohen, because your comments are absurd. This hearing is absurd," Johnson said.
"Your comments are absurd!" Cohen shot back, before he was quieted by the committee chairman's gavel.