In the same week the Supreme Court heard arguments challenging a law requiring doctors in Louisiana who perform abortions to have hospital admitting privileges, yet another qualified female candidate who sought the privilege of being admitted to the White House failed.
Elizabeth Warren’s withdrawal from the presidential race is disappointing on many levels, not least of which is another lost opportunity to turn the tide on the ongoing erosion of reproductive rights. Sure, you don’t have to be a woman to support reproductive rights (and not all women support such rights). But the fact remains that until more women achieve positions of political power, the erosion will continue, and we will continue to have to light candles for the continued good health of an 86-year-old Supreme Court justice so that the gender balance on the highest court doesn’t get even worse.
The Supreme Court arguments last week in June Medical Services v. Russ centered on a Louisiana law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges to local hospitals. Admitting privileges don’t make abortions safer, and they are unnecessary hurdles both for doctors and for the women seeking abortions to which they have a legal right.
If the law is upheld, it could shut down all but one abortion clinic in the entire state of Louisiana.
The reemergence of this issue is somewhat surprising given that the court ruled on a nearly identical case in 2016, overuling a Texas law that would have required abortion providers to have admitting privileges. But while only three years separate these cases, much is different.
Two Trump conservative appointees, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, now sit on the bench. And that means the many cuts to Roe v. Wade will continue until abortion is legal in name only and impossible to actually obtain. Anti-choice advocates have over recent years been successful in getting a series of so called TRAP laws passed. These Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers laws impose requirements and restrictions on abortion providers far more burdensome than those on other medical practictioners, severely limiting a woman’s abortion access.
These are considered a back door way to kill Roe v. Wade — which the great majority of Americans support.
In Pennsylvania in 2019, anti-choice lawmakers repeated their yearly introduction of a slew of bills that would limit access to abortion. A majority of these bills did not pass — including a ban on abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. A ban on abortion following a Down Syndrome diagnosis passed but was vetoed by Gov. Tom Wolf.
These restrictions place an undue burden on a woman’s right to a legal abortion.
Throughout the years, defenders of reproductive rights have argued that a woman’s right to make decisions about her body is tied directly to her right to be considered a equal member of society. A woman’s ability to plan when she has a child directly impacts her ability to participate fully in society and the economy. And yet lawmakers and justices continue to argue for admitting privileges to women’s bodies and the choices they are legally entitled to make.