Over 200 members of Congress sign letter urging Supreme Court to strike down US abortion right protections

39 Republican senators among those urging a potential revisiting of Roe v Wade

Clark Mindock
New York
Thursday 02 January 2020 22:28 GMT
(AFP via Getty Images)

Over 200 members of Congress have signed their names onto an effort to overturn two key abortion protections in the United States, marking the latest attempt by the GOP to take down the longstanding right.

The list includes 39 Republicans hailing from red states, most of which Donald Trump carried in 2016 in a surprise victory that has allowed him to appoint two new conservative justices to the Supreme Court. Another 168 politicians in the House have also signed, including two Democrats.

In the letter, the members call for a revisiting of Roe v Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision establishing the right to an abortion, and, "if appropriate", to overrule the protection.

The letter comes as the Supreme Court considers a challenge to a Louisiana state law known as the “Unsafe Abortion Protection Act” that would require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, which supporters say would help assist with the “continuity of care” should an emergency arise.

But, just two doctors in the state have been able to receive a special designation required under the law. And, according to CBS News, one of those doctors has already stopped giving abortions, and the other has threatened to retire should the Supreme Court rule for the further restrictions on abortions.

In their amicus brief, the nearly 40 Republicans who signed their names to support the Louisiana law suggested that it illustrates that the American right to an abortion is unworkable.

The issue “illustrates the unworkability of the 'right to abortion' found in Roe v Wade”, the senators wrote.

The Supreme Court is set to hear the case early this year, after the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld key provisions of the law. The appeals court decision marked the first time a federal court had ruled in favour of such measures after a nearly identical law in Texas was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2016.

While the Supreme Court blocked the lower court ruling for the moment with the help of chief Justice John Roberts, it is not clear that it will not ultimately uphold the provision. Justice Roberts, in 2016, dissented with the majority opinion.

And, the conservative justice who joined liberals — Anthony Kennedy — to form a majority has now retired and been replaced by Brett Kavanaugh, who has expressed a willingness to undermine or discard the 2016 ruling out of Texas.

In response to the mostly Republican amicus brief, prominent Democrats and activists slammed the effort, and suggested that it has been clear that the GOP is intent on overturning abortion protections for .women.

"I won't hold my breath waiting for an apology from those who said that abortion rights supporters were being 'hysterical' when we decried Brett Kavanaugh's appointment to the Supreme Court as the possible end of Roe v Wade," Lauren Rankin, a womens' rights activist and writer, wrote on Twitter. "But here it is. They want to end legal abortion."

And Andrew Yang, a Democratic presidential candidate, responded to the news by calling for a codification of Roe v Wade, so that the Supreme Court could not undercut the right through state-level attacks. Much of the Democratic field has likewise called for a codification of the ruling.

"We need to protect women's reproductive rights and codify Roe v Wade into law," Mr Yang wrote on Twitter.

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