Abortion groups challenge restrictions in three states
Abortion | Lawsuits aim to strike down the 20-week abortion ban and regulations on abortionists
by Samantha Gobba
Posted 12/01/16, 05:48 pm
Planned Parenthood and other abortion advocacy groups filed lawsuits Wednesday challenging abortion regulations in Alaska, Missouri, and North Carolina.
The lawsuits challenge three types of restrictions, from requirements for abortionists to a 20-week abortion ban.
Pro-life advocates suspect the lawsuits are carefully testing judicial waters after Whole Women’s Health Vs. Hellerstedt, the June Supreme Court decision that knocked down a Texas law requiring abortionists to have hospital admitting privileges and abortion facilities to meet standards for ambulatory surgical centers.
“These are not the broad, sweeping lawsuits that some people predicted when Hellerstedt was decided,” Denise Burke with Americans United for Life told me. “There was a lot of crowing by abortion advocates saying that this was a sword that they could now use to strike down a lot of abortion restrictions and regulations. We’re not seeing that.”
One suit claims a 40-year-old Alaska law regarding abortions after the first trimester is unconstitutional. The law requires abortionists to consult a second physician before performing an abortion after the first-trimester and mandates abortions after the first trimester occur in a facility set up to perform a blood transfusion.
A second suit challenges a Missouri law requiring abortion facilities to meet standards for ambulatory surgical centers and for abortionists to have hospital admitting privileges. The suit claims the law is too strict, making it so difficult to run an abortion center that only one licensed facility exists in the state. The suit cites Hellerstedt as a relevant case.
The third lawsuit targets North Carolina’s ban on abortions after 20 weeks of gestation. The ban makes an exception if the mother’s life is in danger but not for emotional or psychological reasons, a woman’s threats to harm herself, or if the baby is thought to be disabled. That exception is too narrow, the suit argues.
Planned Parenthood filed the suits along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Center for Reproductive Rights.
In a statement, ACLU communications manager Jaweer Brown noted the organization wanted to send a “clear message” on its abortion stance.
“From Alaska to North Carolina—and every state in between—we will continue to fight until every woman has the dignity to make decisions about her body, her family, and her future,” he said. “Our bodies, our rights, and our clinics are not going anywhere.”
Burke predicted a heavier onslaught against abortion laws if the ACLU and Planned Parenthood prevail in these lawsuits.
Both Burke and the Family Research Council’s Arina Grossu expressed hope that President-elect Donald Trump’s administration would fill not only the Supreme Court but also lower benches in the federal judiciary with pro-life judges.
“We are optimistic that Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt will not stand permanently, as states should be able to protect women’s health and safety through perfectly reasonable measures,” Grossu said. “We are confident President-elect Trump will appoint originalists to the Supreme Court who will reverse many of the unconstitutional decisions of the past.”
Samantha reports on the pro-life movement for WORLD Digital.