First abortion case for Trump's Supreme Court to be heard next year

Activists are saying they're prepared for the fight

Lily Puckett
New York
Friday 04 October 2019 18:06
Related video: Crowd cheers as Oaxaca becomes second Mexico state to decriminalise abortion
Related video: Crowd cheers as Oaxaca becomes second Mexico state to decriminalise abortion

The Supreme Court will hear its first abortion case since Donald Trump installed two justices who are both expected to vote in an anti-abortion way.

The court agreed Friday to hear a case concerning a Louisiana law that would leave the state with only one doctor authorised to perform abortions. The case is expected to be heard in June of 2020.

The law says doctors must have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the facility where the abortion is performed. It was enacted in Louisiana, an overwhelmingly conservative state, but struck down in 2017 in the Federal District Court in the state’s capital, when a judge said that the law created an unnecessary burden on women’s constitutional right to abortion.

A nearly identical law in Texas was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2016. Now, abortion rights activists are preparing to revisit that battle in the new court. But Mr Trump’s vow to the evangelical right to uphold anti-abortion laws means that his justice picks are likely to see this case as a chance to swing at Roe v Wade.

“Access to abortion is hanging by a thread in this country, and this case is what could snap that thread,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “There’s only one reason the court would not strike down the Louisiana law and that is because Justice Kennedy, who voted to protect abortion access just three years ago, has been replaced with Justice Kavanaugh.

“This is what we’ve warned about — the Trump administration and anti-abortion state politicians will not stop until they have gutted our rights and our freedoms,” she continued. “We will never stop fighting, alongside our partners at the Centre for Reproductive Rights and the brave providers on the ground in Louisiana, to ensure that every single person is still able to access abortion.”

The case will be heard after more than a year of harshly restrictive laws around the country caused widespread outrage. As many activists said during the inititial commotion around the series of anti-abortion laws, many mimicking the outright ban Alabama championed in April, the goal of these laws was to bring them to the Supreme Court, in an effort to eventually overturn Roe v Wade, which this administration has sworn it would do.

Ilyse Hogue, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said in a statement that it’s “no accident” that the case was taken u on the anniversary of Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation, who is thought to have been placed on the Court for, among other reasons, his anti-choice stance.

“This is their playbook: stack the federal bench with anti-choice judges to gut reproductive rights,” Ms Hogue said. “Today’s decision to review a case that is virtually identical to a case that was settled just three years ago is further proof that Donald Trump has paid back his debts and then some to an anti-choice minority that put him in office. The only thing that has changed since the Supreme Court decided Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt in 2016 is the composition of the Court.

“We hope that the Supreme Court will uphold precedent and protect Louisiana women and families' basic rights, but no matter what, NARAL will continue to fight back against the anti-choice movement’s attacks on reproductive freedom and hold those responsible for putting anti-choice justices on the bench accountable,” she added.

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