A new decade has barely begun, yet Donald Trump and his Republican cohorts are already hard at work trying to send America back several decades by unwinding the steady progress of women’s rights. For the first time since Trump picks Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh joined, the Supreme Court will hear a challenge to a state abortion law. Their ruling, which is expected in June, will prove to be pivotal in determining whether women have the right to make informed and important decisions about their own bodies.
At issue is a 2014 Louisiana law that aims to make abortion more difficult to access by requiring doctors to have admitting privileges in a hospital located close to an abortion facility. In 2017, a federal district court judge struck down the law, noting that it would mean there would be only one doctor who can legally perform abortions in a state where about 10,000 women seek them each year. An appeals court reversed this decision and upheld the law, but the Supreme Court blocked it pending their upcoming ruling.
On Friday, Trump’s Solicitor General Noel Francisco filed an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief to argue that the law should be allowed to take effect because it supposedly does not create an unconstitutional burden on abortion seekers. He absurdly claims that Roe v. Wade allows for this restrictive law because Louisiana has a “legitimate interest” in ensuring that abortions are offered with “maximum safety for the patient.”
Not to be outdone, 39 Republican senators and 168 House members (including, unfortunately, two Democrats) filed their own amicus brief on Thursday that takes things a disturbing step further. Rather than argue, as the Trump administration is doing, that the Louisiana law passes muster under Roe, these off-the-rails lawmakers are calling for the Supreme Court to overrule Roe, dismissing the landmark ruling as “radically unsettled precedent.” Even if the Supreme Court upholds the Louisiana law but lets Roe stand, such a development would open the floodgates to new challenges that could lead to essentially the same unconscionable result.
No matter how the Supreme Court decides this issue, the ruling will come in an election year, which means it will serve as a stark reminder that elections have consequences. When a reporter asked Trump this week what his New Year’s resolution was for 2020, he refused to answer out of fear he would “jinx it.” However, we already know that Trump and his party are resolved to pull America backwards as quickly and as cruelly as they can. We, on the other hand, must resolve to show up on Election Day and encourage others to do so. A massive blue wave is needed to ensure that America’s laws don’t get written and adjudicated by people who are perversely obsessed with controlling our nation’s women.