This past March 24, 2020 the Supreme Court heard arguments in what many consider to be the most high-profile abortion rights case in decades. This confrontation has been brewing for decades, and was destined to be decided sooner or later. And this was one venue the Coronavirus failed to disrupt.
The case before the court involves June Medical Services v. Russo/Gee, and determines whether the state of Louisiana can impose severe restrictions on doctors who perform abortions. These restrictions require the doctor to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. There have been numerous instances, too many to count, where an abortion results in complications that require the care of the emergency room of a hospital to correct; in some cases, death has resulted from inadequate measures at abortion facilities to handle these emergencies.
The Center for Reproductive Rights was the lead counsel for June Medical Services, and argued that this case is about respect for court precedent. This argument was based on a 2016 Texas case before the court, in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. In that case, the high court ruled the law, which is identical to Louisiana’s, was unconstitutional.
Many in the legal community and elsewhere questioned the court's agreeing to hear this recent case, that it was rare, and might indicate the court's predisposition to restrict abortion rights. This rethinking is a manifestation stemming from the fact that since the first ruling, with the additions of (Steven) Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, the court is now majority conservative with justices Alito, Thomas, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Chief Justice Roberts, maybe.
Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan, and (Marisol), lean to the left and had tough questions for the Louisiana counsel; I believe they have already decided against the law. Advocates of abortion rights protested that this law, if ruled constitutional, would place insurmountable obstacles in the path of abortion facilities. They have also claimed that many hospitals are weary of dealing with doctors who perform abortions.
Many might be surprised at the requirements that states have implemented over the years in dealing with the abortion issue. Following is an overview of laws established by states that pertain to abortion and restrictions imposed on this life-ending procedure.
* 41 states require an abortion to be performed by a licensed physician.
* 19 states require an abortion be performed in a hospital, after a specific point the pregnancy.
* 18 states require a second physician after a specified point in the pregnancy.
* 43 states prohibit abortions; the only exception is for the life or health of the mother.
* 20 have laws that prohibit partial-birth abortion.
* 12 states restrict coverage of abortion in private insurance plans.
* 45 states allow individual health care providers to refuse to fund or participate in an abortion.
* 45 states allow institutions to refuse to perform abortions.
* 18 states require a mother to be given counseling before an abortion.
* 27 states require a woman seeking an abortion to wait a specified period of time, usually 24 hours.
* 37 states require parental involvement in a minor’s decision to have an abortion.
* 26 states require one or both parents to consent to an abortion.
* 11 states require that both parents be notified.
* 43 states prohibit abortion after a certain point in the pregnancy, most after 20 weeks.
* 9 states require that mothers view an ultrasound video before getting an abortion.
** There can be exceptions to some of these laws; the most common is for the life or health of the mother.
The hope of the pro-life movement is that the Louisiana law being argued in June Medical Services v. Russo/Gee, be found as constitutional, and that the determination of abortion rights falls to the individual states, and from that point - God only knows. The court’s ruling will be announced in June, let us pray the five conservative justice’s rule for the life of the unborn.