US: Abortion groups turn to state legal fights after Roe ruling

Published on Jun 25, 2022 06:34 AM IST
The US Supreme Court decision to end the constitutional right to abortion is setting up a legal fight in some key states where lawmakers plan to enact bans before gubernatorial and congressional elections later this year.
An abortion rights protester holds a sign to keep abortion safe in Ohio at a rally in Columbus, on June 24, 2022. (REUTERS)
An abortion rights protester holds a sign to keep abortion safe in Ohio at a rally in Columbus, on June 24, 2022. (REUTERS)
Bloomberg |

The US Supreme Court decision to end the constitutional right to abortion is setting up a legal fight in some key states where lawmakers plan to enact bans before gubernatorial and congressional elections later this year.

Advocates for women’s reproductive rights have filed suits in Michigan and Florida to preserve abortion rights, and another is planned in Ohio. The Supreme Court on Friday overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, leaving it up to the states to make their own rules.

“More than half the states across the country are expected to quickly move to ban abortion, plunging 36 million women and other people who can become pregnant into a public health and civil liberties crisis,” the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood Federation of America said in a joint statement.

Hours after the Supreme Court ruling, Ohio’s Governor Mike DeWine and state Attorney General Dave Yost, both Republicans, got a federal judge to lift an injunction against a state law that banned abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, which had been blocked from taking effect since July 2019.

The two advocacy groups plan to file a lawsuit “on behalf of Ohio’s abortion providers to protect the continuity of abortion care in our state under the Ohio Constitution,” they said in the statement.

“Today’s ruling will have deadly consequences, with the harm falling hardest on Black women and other people of color, who already face disproportionate discrimination in our country and grapple with a severe maternal mortality crisis, especially in states, like Ohio, that are preparing to enforce cruel bans on abortion,” the groups said.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, filed a motion asking the state Supreme Court to immediately hear her lawsuit over whether Michigan’s criminal abortion ban violates the state constitution. The 1931 law makes abortion a felony punishable by up to four years in prison for both the provider and patient, without exceptions in cases of rape or incest.

Whitmer’s lawsuit was filed in April. In May, the Michigan Court of Claims granted a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood and the ACLU against the abortion law, which prevents it from going into effect until there is a ruling in that lawsuit.

“It is a precarious moment,” Whitmer, who is seeking re-election in November, said Friday in an interview on WDIV, Detroit’s NBC affiliate.

She said it is critical that the state Supreme Court “render a decision that abortion care is reproductive healthcare that is protected by our state constitution’s due process and equal protection clauses.”

In Florida, a Jewish congregation filed a lawsuit last week alleging a state law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy violates the right to religious freedom.

“In Jewish law, abortion is required if necessary to protect the health, mental or physical well-being of the woman, or for many other reasons not permitted under the Act,” according to the lawsuit filed on behalf of Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor.

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