THE FIGHT FOR LIFE: SCOTUS Hears Case That Could Destroy Roe v. Wade

WASHINGTON (The Hill) — The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to take up a dispute over a Mississippi law that bans virtually all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, potentially setting the 6-3 conservative majority court on a collision course with the landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade.

The move was announced in an unsigned order, with the justices indicating the dispute would be limited to the major issue of the constitutionality of pre-viability restrictions on elective abortions. 

The case was brought on appeal by Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch (R) after a federal appeals court sided with challengers to the state’s restriction. 

The Supreme Court has undergone a dramatic conservative shift since last year when Mississippi first asked the justices to take up its appeal.

Last term, a bare 5-4 majority voted to block a Louisiana abortion limit, with Chief Justice John Roberts casting the deciding vote alongside Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the court’s three other more liberal justices.

But the late Ginsburg, a liberal stalwart, has since been replaced by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, cementing a 6-3 conservative court and throwing the future of longstanding abortion protections into question.

At least four justices must agree to hear a case for an appeal to be granted.

Abortion rights advocates expressed concern over Monday’s development.

“Alarm bells are ringing loudly about the threat to reproductive rights,” Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement. “The Supreme Court just agreed to review an abortion ban that unquestionably violates nearly 50 years of Supreme Court precedent and is a test case to overturn Roe v. Wade.”

The Mississippi law is among hundreds of abortion restrictions that have been introduced recently in state legislatures across the country. In 2021 alone, more than 500 abortion restrictions, including nearly 150 abortion bans, were introduced in 46 states, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Of those, just over 60 measures have been enacted.

The anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) hailed the Supreme Court’s move on Monday as a chance to give states more latitude.

“This is a landmark opportunity for the Supreme Court to recognize the right of states to protect unborn children from the horrors of painful late-term abortions,” SBA List president Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement.

Mississippi’s appeal comes after losing two rounds in the lower courts. In 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit held that the state’s restriction placed an unconstitutional burden on a woman’s right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy before viability. 

“In an unbroken line dating to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s abortion cases have established (and affirmed, and re-affirmed) a woman’s right to choose an abortion before viability,” reads the opinion of a three-judge panel. “States may regulate abortion procedures prior to viability so long as they do not impose an undue burden on the woman’s right, but they may not ban abortions.”


The Hill’s John Kruzel contributed to the contents of this report.

WIN FOR LIFE: Alabama Governor signs bill to ban abortion into law

MONTGOMERY, Al. (Al.com) —

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has signed the bill to make abortion a felony in Alabama, the governor’s office announced.

“To the bill’s many supporters, this legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God,” Ivey said in a press release.

The Senate gave final passage to the bill on Tuesday night, sending it to Ivey’s desk.

The bill says it will take effect in six months. But the sponsors said their intent was to trigger litigation that could lead to a challenge of Roe v. Wade at the U.S. Supreme Court.

ACLU of Alabama and Planned Parenthood have said they would sue to block the law.

Here is Ivey’s full statement:

“Today, I signed into law the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, a bill that was approved by overwhelming majorities in both chambers of the Legislature. To the bill’s many supporters, this legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God.

“To all Alabamians, I assure you that we will continue to follow the rule of law.

“In all meaningful respects, this bill closely resembles an abortion ban that has been a part of Alabama law for well over 100 years. As today’s bill itself recognizes, that longstanding abortion law has been rendered “unenforceable as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.

“No matter one’s personal view on abortion, we can all recognize that, at least for the short term, this bill may similarly be unenforceable. As citizens of this great country, we must always respect the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court even when we disagree with their decisions. Many Americans, myself included, disagreed when Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973. The sponsors of this bill believe that it is time, once again, for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit this important matter, and they believe this act may bring about the best opportunity for this to occur.

“I want to commend the bill sponsors, Rep. Terri Collins and Sen. Clyde Chambliss, for their strong leadership on this important issue.

“For the remainder of this session, I now urge all members of the Alabama Legislature to continue seeking the best ways possible to foster a better Alabama in all regards, from education to public safety. We must give every person the best chance for a quality life and a promising future.”

The Republican majority in the House and Senate passed the bill over opposition from Democrats. The law makes it a felony for a doctor to perform an abortion. The woman would not be criminally liable. The law includes an exception to allow abortions in cases of serious health risks to the woman.

In recent days, Ivey had said she would wait to see the final version of the bill before deciding to sign it.

The bill does not include an exception to allow abortions for victims of rape and incest.

Randall Marshall, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama, issued this statement:

“By signing this bill, the governor and her colleagues in the state legislature have decided to waste millions in Alabama taxpayer dollars in order to defend a bill that is simply a political effort to overturn 46 years of precedent that has followed the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. We will not allow that to happen, and we will see them in court. Despite the governor signing this bill, clinics will remain open, and abortion is still a safe, legal medical procedure at all clinics in Alabama.”

Staci Fox, president and CEO at Planned Parenthood Southeast, also issued a statement:

“We vowed to fight this dangerous abortion ban every step of the way and we meant what we said. We haven’t lost a case in Alabama yet and we don’t plan to start now. We will see Governor Ivey in court. In the meantime, abortion is still safe, legal, and available in the state of Alabama and we plan to keep it that way.”

 

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Mike Cason of Al.com contributed to the contents of this report.

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PLANNED PARENTHOOD SMACKDOWN: SCOTUS rules in favor of pro-life crisis pregnancy centers in battle over First Amendment

Washington, D.C. — The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled in favor of pro-life pregnancy centers affirming that a California law passed in 2015, which requires the centers to inform clients about free or low-cost abortion services, violates the centers’ First Amendment rights to free speech.

In the 5-4 ruling, the court invalidated the California law, putting in peril similar laws on the books in Hawaii and Illinois.

The Golden State law, which targeted centers that provide abortion alternative counseling, mandated that such centers prominently post information on how to obtain abortion and contraception.

Centers that failed to comply with the law were fined $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense, under California law.

Pro-life groups fiercely challenged the regulations, arguing that they violated their free speech rights under the First Amendment. The court concurred. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had previously rejected that argument.

“California cannot co-opt the licensed facilities to deliver its message for it,” Justice Clarence Thomas said in his majority opinion, referring to the regulations as “unjustified and unduly burdensome.”

Thomas was joined in his findings by fellow conservative justices John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch. Liberal justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan each dissented.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra spoke out after the high court’s decision was announced, calling the ruling “unfortunate.”

“When it comes to making their health decisions, all California women — regardless of their economic background or zip code — deserve access to critical and non-biased information to make their own informed decisions,” Becerra said in a statement.

“Today’s Court ruling is unfortunate, but our work to ensure that Californians receive accurate information about their healthcare options will continue.”

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THE FIGHT FOR LIFE: SCOTUS rejects Planned Parenthood bid to block Arkansas restrictions on abortion

Washington, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to block an Arkansas law which bars pill-induced abortions, effectively denying an appeal by two Planned Parenthood clinics who argued the state would be left with only one abortion provider.

The rejection frees up the 2015 measure to shortly take full effect, though the clinics may file argument over the matter again at a lower court level.

The ruling came in a one-line order, without dissent, suggesting the court’s more liberal justices intentionally decided to hold back at any objections.

Planned Parenthood further argued unsuccessfully against current law, which mandates that clinics that perform medication abortions have a contractual relationship with a doctor who has admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Attorneys arguing on behalf of Planned Parenthood claimed no obstetrician in the state will agree to the required contract.

The Planned Parenthood clinics in question, located in Little Rock and Fayetteville, currently offer only medication-induced abortions, which can be performed until the ninth week of pregnancy. The state’s only other clinic, also located in Little Rock, performs surgical abortions as well and advocates for the law argued that the clinic could continue to offer that service, regardless of the outcome.

The ruling is a blow to abortion rights advocates, who abortion-rights advocates, who won a similar Supreme Court fight in 2016 over a Texas law that threatened to shut down operations in three-quarter of the state’s clinics.

Despite arguments from attorneys representing Planned Parenthood that the Arkansas case “presents virtually identical factual and legal issues” as the Texas case, the court ultimately ruled in favor of Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge who urged the Supreme Court to reject the appeal, saying that “there is no right to choose medication abortion.”

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‘EVERY CHILD IS A PRECIOUS GIFT FROM GOD’: Trump becomes first sitting president to address anti-abortion March for Life

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump on Friday became the first sitting president in U.S. history to lend his support to the March for Life movement.

Addressing a crowd of tens of thousands who had gathered at the nation’s capital, President Trump said it was his “honor” to speak out on behalf of the unborn (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfgByiC057k).

The annual event, held in Washington, protests the 1974 “Roe v. Wade” decision, which cleared the way for legal abortions in the U.S.

“Under my administration, we will always defend the very first right in the Declaration of Independence and that is the right to life,” Trump said while speaking from the Rose Garden.

During his speech, the president directly targeted a gruesome procedure referred to as “partial-birth abortion” during which a late-term baby can be aborted as last as during the ninth month of a woman’s pregnancy.

“That is why we march, that is why we pray, that is why we declare that America’s future will be filled with goodness, peace, joy, dignity and life for every child of God,” said Trump, referring to the procedure as “wrong”, saying it “has to change.”

‘We are with you all the way. May God bless you,” the president said to those at the march, many of whom had come from all over the country to attend.

The move symbolized the president’s change in view on the issue of abortion after having been vocal in his pro-choice stance in years past.

Indeed, during his opening remarks before introducing the president, Vice-President Mike Pence referred to Trump as “the most pro-life president in American history”.

Pence, long known for his pro-life stance, had represented the Trump administration by addressing the crowd last year.

Organizers of the movement praised the president for his pro-life efforts.

“He has been great on pro-life public policy,” March for Life’s president, Jeanne Mancini, told POLITICO. “He doesn’t lack courage. He’s been leaning into this issue in a way that’s refreshing.”

The president has been challenged by the left on his evolution when it comes to the matter of abortion. But it was a personal experience, he said while on the campaign trail in 2016, that caused him to “see the light”.

“What happened is friends of mine, years ago, were going to have a child, and it was going to be aborted. And it wasn’t aborted. And that child today is a total superstar, a great, great child. And I saw that. And I saw other instances,” Trump said. “I am (now) very, very proud to say that I am pro-life.”

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SAD ENDING TO CHARLIE GARD CASE: PARENTS END FIGHT TO SAVE DYING BABY

LONDON, ENGLAND — The parents of Charlie Gard, the infant at the center of an international right to life debate, have ended their fight to bring the terminally ill child to the United States where he would have received experimental treatment for his condition.

As tears streamed down their faces, Chris Gard and Connie Yates stood next to their attorney who announced the young couple’s heartbreaking decision.

“Time has run out. The window of opportunity has been lost,” the couple’s lawyer, Grant Armstrong, said at London’s High Court. “It’s too late for Charlie. The damage has been done.”

Charlie, who had gained support from both U.S. president Donald Trump and Pope Francis who argued that the infant deserved every opportunity for treatment, suffers from rare genetic condition, Mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. As a result of his deteriorating condition the child suffers from brain damage and is unable to breathe on his own.

The 11 month old’s parents were expected to present argument before the High Court on Monday that they initially hoped would sway the court to allow them to take the child to the United States to seek additional treatment but after consulting with specialists in the U.S. it was determined that too much time had been wasted in the ongoing legal battle with the hospital where Charlie had been receiving care.

Doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital, where Charlie has been undergoing treatment since last October, had petitioned the court to allow them to turn off life support for the infant on the grounds that more treatment would only cause Charlie undue pain. Charlie’s parents, on the other hand, refused to allow them to do so and petitioned the High Court to allow them to seek experimental treatment outside the country.

With the court’s permission, Dr. Michio Hirano, a neurologist at Columbia University Medical Center, which has treated children with the syndrome in the past, examined the boy last week but determined that the child’s condition was at a point of no return.

Sobbing as she stood in front of the court, the boy’s mother said that she and her husband “only wanted to give him a chance of life.” She added “we have decided to let our son go” after determining that at this point there was no hope.

The judge hearing the case, Nicholas Francis, praised the parents on Monday for their fight to help save their son. “No parent could have done more for their child,” he told them, recognizing that the only “right thing” do to now is “to let him die with dignity.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for Great Ormond Street Hospital expressed sympathy for Charlie’s parents and said no specified a timeline for shutting off the boy’s life support. The decision on to when to do so, said the hospital, will be made in consultation with the parents.

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