May 18, 2021

Supreme Court to Hear Abortion Case

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“The Supreme Court on Monday set the stage for a major ruling next year on abortion – one that could upend the Supreme Court’s landmark decisions in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in which the court ruled that the Constitution protects the right to have an abortion before a fetus becomes viable. The court granted review in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a challenge to the constitutionality of a Mississippi law that (with limited exceptions) bars abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy.” SCOTUSblog

Here’s our prior coverage of the Supreme Court’s most recent abortion ruling. The Flip Side

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From the Left

The left frames the issue around women’s bodily autonomy, and is alarmed that the Supreme Court will likely weaken legal protections for abortion.

“This action suggests that the conservative majority is no longer interested in gradually eroding abortion rights until they are, in reality, nonexistent. This strategy has guided the anti-abortion movement for decades. It has resulted in laws that shutter abortion clinics under a bogus pretext, compel doctors to read anti-abortion propaganda, force women to undergo ultrasounds and waiting periods, and forbid abortions for specific reasons, like fetal disability…

“After the confirmations of Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, the conventional wisdom dictated that the Supreme Court would begin to uphold these laws, chipping away at Roe until it became a hollow promise. But the new conservative majority is not waiting for these half-measures to reach the court; with Dobbs, it has gone for the jugular.”
Mark Joseph Stern, Slate

“Rather than overruling Roe and Casey, the court might say that viability is no longer a meaningful marker for determining when a state may restrict a woman’s right to choose — a decision that would be as consequential as scuttling Roe itself. It could allow states to restrict access to abortion at any point during pregnancy, sharply curtailing reproductive rights as lower courts reconsider the constitutionality of bans on abortion after 12 weeks, 10 weeks or six weeks of pregnancy…

“It was [Justice Ruth Bader] Ginsburg’s dying wish that the winner of the election name her replacement, perhaps in part because Trump promised to appoint justices who would overrule Roe and the abortion right that Ginsburg viewed as essential to women’s equal citizenship. She was right to worry.”
Leah Litman and Melissa Murray, Washington Post

“[If Roe is overturned] women with money who are seeking abortions will be able to travel to states where it is legal. But poor women and teenagers will not be able to do so. For them, it will be like it was before 1973: They will have to choose between an unsafe, back-alley abortion or an unwanted pregnancy… [This] should frighten all who believe that women should have the right to reproductive autonomy.”
Erwin Chemerinsky, Los Angeles Times

“Laws that make it difficult to get an abortion always end up disproportionately affecting women of color and lower-income women, who have a difficult time getting to a clinic and paying for an abortion. It’s already an ordeal to get an abortion in Mississippi, given that there is only one clinic. A pregnant woman could run out of time in states with bans of 15 weeks or less just trying to make arrangements to get an abortion…

“Lawyers for the state of Mississippi have argued that the viability threshold ‘constantly moves.’ In fact, since Roe vs. Wade was decided, it has barely changed. Dr. Daniel Grossman, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California San Francisco, says viability remains at about 24 weeks; survival without severe health problems is rare for fetuses delivered earlier than that. When deciding this case, the Supreme Court could send a clear message to state legislatures, once and for all, that a woman has a constitutional right to an abortion before the fetus is viable.”
Editorial Board, Los Angeles Times

From the Right

The right frames the issue around the rights of the unborn, and argues that abortion policy should be determined through the democratic process.

The right frames the issue around the rights of the unborn, and argues that abortion policy should be determined through the democratic process.

“Perhaps the court will take this opportunity to reconsider Roe v. Wade and to see it for what it was—an unwarranted and unwise power grab in which the court crafted a ‘constitutional’ right to abortion out of thin air. Overturning Roe would return abortion policy to the states where it belongs—and to the democratic process in which Americans debate the morality of abortion and their elected state representatives decide what citizens of their state can and cannot do.”
Sarah Parshall Perry, Daily Signal

“Throwing out Roe would not mean banning abortion. It would not even necessarily mean restricting abortion. Roe is a bad legal decision not because of any moral question related to abortion but because it is bad law. The Constitution does not say anything about abortion one way or the other, and it does not contain any provision that could reasonably be interpreted as mandating abortion rights or prohibiting abortion. The Constitution has no more to say about abortion than it does quantum physics…

“Because the Constitution is silent on abortion, a post-Roe order would be established legislatively. Put another way: Post-Roe, the law would be made by the lawmakers. That would probably mean that Oklahoma and Utah will end up with abortion laws that are very different from those of California and New Jersey. As a constitutional matter, that is appropriate — it is, in fact, how things are supposed to be: We have 50 different states for a reason…

“The Supreme Court is not supposed to function as an Iranian-style guardian council keeping the state and society within certain moral guardrails. The Supreme Court is there to interpret the law… If the abortion-rights advocates want to have a constitutional right to abortion inserted into the Bill of Rights, we have a constitutional-amendment process for such purposes. Get to work.”
Kevin D. Williamson, National Review

Laws like Mississippi’s have broad public support. According to an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll from 2019, only 29% of Americans think that abortion should generally be allowed after the first three months of pregnancy (13 or so weeks). That broad public support is likely to grow when Americans learn that—according to this Center for Reproductive Rights database—France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Norway, Switzerland, and lots of other European countries have a gestational limit of 14 weeks or earlier.”
Ed Whelan, National Review

“[At 15 weeks] This is a developing human being who has his or her own unique DNA and one who most likely developed a detectable heartbeat at six weeks of development. At eight weeks, the unborn human's lungs develop, and two weeks later, the brain and other vital organs are beginning to function, as the Virginia Department of Public Health notes…

“Even at 12 weeks, which is still in the first trimester, the unborn human can swallow. At 16 weeks, the unborn human is usually about 4 1/2 inches long and has its own movements inside of the womb (limbs and eyes), according to the Mayo Clinic… The good news: A Supreme Court with a 6-3 conservative majority agreeing to hear the Mississippi case is promising for the pro-life movement… Hopefully, the court does the right thing.”
Tom Joyce, Washington Examiner

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