Congress members file amicus brief in hopes of overturning Roe v. Wade


Associated Press

Protest has been one of the biggest forms of influence for women trying to protect their right to abortion.

McKenna Christy, Co-editor-in-chief

Congress reconvened on January 3rd, however, before returning, many unanswered questions regarding the rest of the impeachment trial and the discussion of other urging topics were put on pause. Although the impeachment trial and Trump’s orders to drone strike Iran are headlining the news, there is another subject matter threatening the privacy and freedom of some American’s lives.

Last Thursday, over 200 members of Congress- who are mostly republican and male with the exception of two democrats- have pleaded to the Supreme Court to review the court cases Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and June Medical Services v. Gee through the filing of an amicus brief. 

These members of Congress feel strongly that the abortion cases that created the foundations for laws that protect abortion are too confusing to interpret, and therefore they feel they are unable to know what legislation is constitutional. 

Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) along with Roe v. Wade (1973) are the two main court cases described in the brief to be deemed impractical. The two lay the foundation for legalizing abortion across the country, and establish the question that would contribute to examining future restricting abortion policies- is there a “…purpose or effect of imposing an ‘undue burden’” in receiving an abortion? 

Another conflict that the representatives have expressed through the brief is the more recent regulating abortion case, June Medical Services v. Gee, which highlights a prime example of the unreasonableness they have encountered with the two original abortion cases.  

In 2014, the state of Louisiana attempted to place severe restrictions on abortion clinics through Act 620 that would require any physician conducting an abortion to do so within 30 miles of the hospital they have “active admitting privileges at…” And as the abortion clinic June Medical challenged the Act, the district court pronounced the act to hinder a woman’s right to abortion.

Despite the win for abortion clinics in the state, the Fifth Circuit court disagreed with the district’s decision declaring that Louisiana’s Act could not close abortion clinics, and would not restrict women seeking abortions. Although the policy would not directly harm abortion clinics, a lot of practices do not fall within 30 miles of hospitals, indirectly making them unserviceable. (June Medical Services v. Gee will be reviewed by the Supreme Court once again in March, and also when the Congress members hope to see the reviewal of Roe v. Wade). 

Not only does the outcome here impact Louisiana, many abortion clinics across the country will also face similar conflicts if the state’s legislatures have been trying to pass restricting abortion policies. 

As showing support of states who have attempted to pass similar, if not analogous abortion policies to Act 620, the representatives state that

 “…when it comes to State health and safety regulations, there is an inherent conflict of interest between abortion providers and their patients.” 

Contrary to declaring themselves as opposers to abortion, the representatives make an argument over the concern of safety within abortion clinics. They majorly target June Medical and blame the abortion clinic for lack of “a close relationship with women seeking abortion,” along with wanting to expel the policies that “represent the interests of their patients.” 

After all of the arguments in the brief, Roe v. Wade’s final fate rests in the hands of the Supreme Court with a large influential factor of President Trump’s two Supreme Court Justice appointments. Judge Kavanaugh has a short history with abortion cases and his stance on the topic remains debatable. 

The Center for Reproductive Rights analyzed Judge Kavanaugh’s first response to abortion in the case Garza v. Hargan of 2017. The case involved an immigrant minor, Jane Doe, who was detained entering the United States and later found out she was pregnant. She faced many obstacles through the government in order to get an abortion. After being legally permitted to receive one, more policies further restricted her. The organization made the statement that Judge Kavanaugh

“…does not believe that the Constitution’s protection for abortion is meaningful, even under the currently binding precedent of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.” In his dissent after the case, Judge Kavanaugh concluded that detained immigrants do have have access to abortion because they do not hold the constitutional right in receiving them. 

Judge Kavanaugh has switched his views on abortion a few times in the past, and there is still a chance for him to support Roe v. Wade despite the conclusion he came to in Graza v. Hargan. 

Of those notable who have also signed the brief include Ohio senator Rob Portman along with 8 House representatives.

The majority of these representatives tend to not be clear on their stance regarding abortion. It is difficult to believe that their reasoning for supporting more restricting abortion laws is to protect abortion clinic’s “patients” from the “danger” of abortion clinics. There is hope this discussion will be addressed more as March approaches when June Medical Services v. Gee will be reviewed and possibly Roe v. Wade.