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Abortion: The Legal Challenges Continue Post Roe V. Wade

Health & Gender Policy Brief #142 | By: Geoffrey Small | August 30, 2022

Header photo taken from: Voice of America

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The Department of Justice challenges Idaho’s six-week abortion ban. Planned Parenthood previously sued Idaho three times over various pieces of legislation pertaining to abortions, saying they were “vague” and violated the patient’s right to privacy under Idaho’s Constitution.

Photo taken from: Yahoo

Policy Summary

The abortion battle in the U.S. justice system continues months after the Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade. Major federal, state, and city lawsuits are unfolding across the country, potentially setting legal precedents that will determine the future of reproductive rights. Missouri, Idaho, and Louisiana are some of the states that have significant lawsuits and appeals taking place. Missouri is suing its own city, as the state’s Attorney General is attempting to block access to federal abortion relief funds in St. Louis. The United States DOJ (Department of Justice) is suing Idaho. 

The DOJ stated that Idaho’s abortion law of arresting, indicting, and prosecuting a physician for providing an abortion directly conflicts with a federal law that allows patients to receive lifesaving emergency medical treatment. One of the most major setbacks for pro-choice advocates happened in Louisiana. The Louisiana Supreme Court rejected an appeal, made on behalf of it’s three remaining abortion clinics, for an injunction that would allow procedures to continue as plaintiffs argue against the state-wide bans.

Policy Analysis

Missouri

On July 21st 2022, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a lawsuit against St. Louis requesting a preliminary injunction after the city passed a law authorizing the use of federal funds from the U.S. American Rescue Plan Act. St. Louis’ Board Bill 61, which was recently signed into law, utilized this federal funding to create a “Reproductive Equity Fund” and provide “logistical support” for marginalized women who are having trouble accessing abortions. 

Schmitt stated that that bill directly conflicts with Missouri’s state law, which strictly prohibits anyone from accessing public funds for this purpose.

 In response to this issue, Planned Parenthood created the Brand Against Bans campaign encouraging local St. Louis businesses to join the cause by donating, sponsoring a pro-choice event, or providing information on accessible reproductive services.

Chart taken from: Planned Parenthood, Impact Research

(click or tap to enlargen)

Idaho

The United States DOJ is also filing a suit against Idaho related to the use of federal funding. Idaho recently passed a law that authorizes the prosecution of a physician who performs an abortion that isn’t defined as a life saving procedure for the patient. 

 

However, the DOJ argues that Idaho’s new reproductive ban “provides no defense for an abortion necessary to protect the health of the pregnant patient.” It directly conflicts with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, which allows physicians to provide abortions in order to stabilize a patient. 

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra stated “Women should not have to be near death to get care.” Attorney General Merrick Garland also stated “We will use every tool at our disposal to ensure that pregnant women get the emergency medical treatment to which they are entitled under federal law.”


Louisiana abortion clinics stay open after judge temporarily blocks ban as of last month.

Photo taken from: Stephen Smith / AP

Louisiana

As lawsuits are ramping up in Missouri and Idaho, the Louisiana Supreme Court recently rejected an appeal requesting an injunction to continue which protected the three remaining abortions clinics operating in the state. 

The injunction in question allowed the clinics to continue reproductive procedures as a lawsuit challenging Louisiana’s abortion ban argues that the state’s new laws are void due to the overall vagueness in the language. The plaintiffs, filing on behalf of the clinics, stated that the ban “[fails] to provide constitutionally guaranteed notice of exactly what conduct is prohibited, if any, and when.” There are already reports that indicate the remaining abortion clinics are leaving the state.

Despite this major setback in Louisiana, lawsuits continue to set precedents determining the future of U.S. abortions. Organizations like Planned Parenthood are mobilizing campaigns across the country. Also, the ACLU is legally challenging anti-abortion laws in several states. Donating to these organizations can help continue the fight against states taking away reproductive rights.

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