Pro-lifers watching legal challenges that could reverse recent gains over abortion

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Several cases are before U.S. judges that aim to challenge and reverse recent gains made by pro-life conservatives against legal abortion.

Ultimately some of these cases could make their way to the U.S. Supreme Court. It is widely anticipated that, at some point, the high court will overturn Roe v. Wade, given the new conservative majority.

In San Francisco, eleven judges from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals listened to arguments Monday in challenges brought to block a Trump administration rule that bans taxpayer-funded clinics from referring patients for an abortion. The rule essentially caused Planned Parenthood to reject federal funds starting this past July so as to be able to continue to refer and perform abortions.

A ruling from a three-judge 9th Circuit panel had previously allowed the rule to take effect, striking down decisions by liberal judges in Washington, California, and Oregon. Now the rule is being more carefully scrutinized with arguments being brought by 22 states, Planned Parenthood, and other abortion-rights groups.

The Columbian reports

The administration argues that the rule is supported by Supreme Court precedent and is in keeping with the language of the 1970 Title X law, which bars the money from being used in clinics where “abortion is a method of family planning.” It also points to similar rules that were adopted in 1988 and subsequently upheld by the Supreme Court. Under the Clinton administration, those rules were abandoned in favor of a requirement that the clinics provide neutral abortion counseling and referrals upon request.

Some of the judges, including Milan Smith Jr. and Kim Wardlaw, questioned how they could rule against the government when the Supreme Court had previously upheld similar rules.

“I realize the regulation is a little bit different, but the concept is very clear: The Supreme Court says this is OK,” Smith said.

In a Georgia court case, SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective filed a federal lawsuit calling the state’s fetal heartbeat ban on abortions “an affront to the dignity and health of Georgians,” according to the Washington Times.

Fetal heartbeats are detectable as soon as six weeks into a pregnancy.

On Monday, state attorneys argued before U.S. District Judge Steve Jones in Atlanta that Georgia’s ban on abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected should be permitted to take effect as scheduled on January 1 while a legal challenge is pending.

The Georgia law, signed by Republican Governor Brian Kemp in May, allows for exceptions in the case of rape, incest, or where serious medical conditions are present.

Also on Monday, a federal trial began in Nashville, Tennessee, in which five abortion clinics in the state are challenging a 2015 law that mandates a 48-hour waiting period before a woman can receive an abortion.

Tennessee is one of 27 states requiring a waiting period, with a range of 18 to 72 hours.

Tellingly, attorneys for the clinics revealed in court filings that, “Since Tennessee’s law was enacted, more than 2,000 women have declined to obtain abortions after completing their initial informed consent visits,” according to the Times.

State attorneys pointed out the obvious–that the law “helps to ensure that abortion decisions are made knowingly, competently, and voluntarily.”

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Victor Rantala

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