Supreme Court Takes Up 20-Week Abortion Ban, Poses Challenges for National Pro-Choice Movement

For the first time in more than 50 years, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments over whether it can ban late-term abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and if a state can restrict…

Supreme Court Takes Up 20-Week Abortion Ban, Poses Challenges for National Pro-Choice Movement

For the first time in more than 50 years, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments over whether it can ban late-term abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and if a state can restrict an abortion provider’s ability to turn a profit.

Twenty-week bans were recently passed in 20 states, and clinics in Texas and Louisiana have also since closed, taking an estimated 1,000 abortion-providers with them.

The main case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, was filed in 2015 by two Texas abortion clinics and several pro-life groups.

The high court heard the case on October 3, the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

The lawsuit seeks to strike down both the Texas law and similar legislation passed in other states, arguing it violates a woman’s right to an abortion up until viability, the point at which the fetus can survive outside the womb.

There is no concrete age limit on how far a fetus can survive outside the womb, as states can set their own restrictions.

According to the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, viability can vary by the state and by the medical procedures performed.

Medical experts have long debated the point at which viability occurs, and the abortion industry would argue the Supreme Court has yet to definitively decide.

Numerous legal experts at several universities have called it a “toss up” decision.

A recent federal court ruling in New Jersey, backed by the plaintiffs, “doomed” a similar 20-week restriction law there, said Donald Abrams, a professor of constitutional law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, who has been highly critical of the pro-abortion groups involved in the case.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld the law.

In the wake of the decision, abortion rights advocacy groups have expressed concern over what critics call an “underground” procedure in states where there is not an unlimited right to abortion.

Hellerstedt’s challengers argue not even a late-term abortion clinic can operate profitably at 20 weeks because the clinics will not be able to offer inpatient or outpatient services for a year.

In a separate case, the New Jersey Supreme Court recently denied an appeal to block that 20-week ban. In the other case, Paolo’s Pregnancy Center, based in Troy, N.Y., was able to continue providing counseling and counseling after the clinic shut down.

Abbas said that while he believes the lower courts have agreed with pro-abortion groups, he believes they have raised “very important questions that need to be addressed by the Supreme Court.”

Hellerstedt’s opponents believe the case is not about whether or not the Supreme Court should protect abortion rights, but about the viability of the procedure.

“We’re seeking to overturn the court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling in that we believe that the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and a states’ rights provision includes a woman’s right to procure an abortion,” said Elizabeth Nash, senior state issues manager for the Guttmacher Institute, which has been the leading source of pro-abortion information.

Abrams called the legal issues in the case “enormously sophisticated” and said the arguments will likely not be resolved on Monday.

“[Abortion is] the subject of hundreds of cases” before the courts, Abrams said.

The case is set to begin its consideration Monday.

Leave a Comment