On Thursday, Sen. Joni Ernst joined 206 other members of Congress in calling on the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision in Roe v. Wade.
In March this year, the Supreme Court, with Donald Trump’s two new justices, is set to hear a case about abortion.
At issue in the case, June Medical Services LLC v. Gee, is the question of whether a decision made by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals conflicts with Supreme Court precedent established in 2016 with Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.
Ernst joined an amicus brief arguing the question should be broader than Hellerstedt.
According to the brief, those members of Congress think the Supreme Court should take this opportunity to revisit the court’s decisions in Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), two decisions that are the base of the fundamental right to abortion in the United States.
The reasoning for the reconsideration, the legislators argue, is that the Fifth Circuit struggled to define and apply the standards set by Roe and Casey when considering the Louisiana law.
“Finally, Amici respectfully suggest that the Fifth Circuit’s struggle … illustrates the unworkability of the ‘right to abortion’ found in Roe v. Wade and the need for the Court to again take up the issue of whether Roe and Casey should be reconsidered and, if appropriate, overruled,” the brief states.
Before the upcoming Supreme Court case, the Fifth Circuit considered a Louisiana abortion law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital and abortion clinics to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers.
A district court ruled those requirements placed undue burdens on women seeking abortion care. The Fifth Circuit overturned that ruling on the grounds that there were fundamental differences between the Louisiana law and the Texas law at issue in Hellerstedt and that no Louisiana clinics would have to close because of the law.
In Hellerstedt, the Supreme Court found that a Texas abortion law imposed undue burdens on women seeking abortion care. Five of the eight justices ruled this way because of the Texas law’s requirement that abortion providers have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion provider and that abortion clinics had to comply with the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers.
In a statement to Starting Line, Erin Davison-Rippey, Iowa Executive Director of Planned Parenthood North Central States, said: “We cannot idly stand by as politicians like Senators Grassley and Ernst and Representative King defy nearly 50 years of legal precedent in an effort to take away fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. To strip people of their freedom to choose when to start a family goes against the will of the people, 77 percent of whom support access to safe, legal abortions.”
Thirty-nine senators put their names on the amicus brief. Of those, 12 are up for reelection in 2020, about half of the 23 Republican Senate seats up for reelection, including Ernst.
Thirteen Republicans didn’t sign the brief. Of those, eight are up for reelection.
It’s not certain how the case will play out. Last year, the Supreme Court rejected appeals from two states trying to cut Medicaid payments to their Planned Parenthood chapters.
by Nikoel Hytrek