Attempting to recover from his staggering loss in the Supreme Court, abortion Rights groups have launched a multi-layered legal and political attack aimed at blocking and overturning abortion restrictions in courts and ballot boxes across the country.
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In the week since the court overturned Roe v. Wade, for litigants abortion rights group A wave of lawsuits has started in nearly a dozen states to block sanctions, starting with the court’s decision that promised more trials. Their goal is to prove that provisions in state constitutions establish a right to abortion that the Supreme Court ruling said was not present in the US Constitution.
Abortion rights advocates are also working to defeat ballot initiatives that would take away a constitutional right to abortionAnd to pass to states that would establish one, in states where abortion is used depends on who controls the governor’s mansion or the state house.
And after years of complaints that Democrats neglected state and local elections, Democratic-aligned groups are campaigning to overturn the thin Republican majority in some state legislatures, and to elect supporters. abortion rights There are positions ranging from county commissioner to state Supreme Court judges who can influence the enforcement of abortion restrictions.
“You want all the belts and suspenders you can have,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which sued Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case in which the Supreme Court overturned Roe. . While the Supreme Court said it wants to end five decades of bitter debate over abortion, its decision has set off a new battle that promises to be long and equally bitter.
Although advocates of abortion rights say their strategy is promising, the way forward is slow and not at all certain. Polls show Americans overwhelmingly say the decision to be a abortion Should be made by women and their doctors instead of state legislatures. But Republican-controlled state legislatures have passed hundreds of restrictions on abortion over the past decade, and legislative districts have been heavily beefed up to protect Republican incumbents. Trials in state courts will be decided by judges who have been appointed by anti-abortion governors in many cases.
Abortion rights groups say their cases rely on state constitutions to provide a viable route for states to establish row-like protections. Even in conservative states like Oklahoma and Mississippi, they see an opportunity to eliminate abortion restrictions and establish a constitutional backstop against further bans.
But elsewhere, the goal of litigation is to restore or protect access to abortion, at least temporarily, now that the court has decided to make it illegal or effective in more than half the states, which include 33.5 million women. . childbearing age.
For example, in Louisiana, although the state’s constitution explicitly states that there is no right to an abortion, the legal challenge allowed three clinics to continue serving women whose pregnancies were planned to be terminated by court decisions. was disorganized.
“We have to take these things step by step,” said Joanna Wright, partner at Boise Schiller Flexner. Reproduction Wrights is leading the Louisiana case. “A lot can change in one day, one month and six months. Only time will tell the rest, but it’s a fight for now.”
The Supreme Court decision reverses the dynamics of the abortion strategy, which has been prevalent for half a century since Roe, when anti-abortion groups have sought legal access by electing like-minded state legislators and passing increasingly tough laws. did away with, and abortion rights groups could. Count on Roe to stop the most severe sanctions from taking effect.
Now, anti-abortion groups and congressional Republicans discuss federal legislation that would ban abortion nationwide after 15 weeks pregnancyAnd abortion rights groups have begun to climb the tighter and narrower path state by state.
“Democracy is a collective action,” Wright said, “and what we’ve seen from the anti-abortion movement is its ability to mobilize all the pieces,” culminating with Row’s reversal.
As of Friday, groups had temporarily stopped restrictions from taking effect in Utah, Kentucky, Louisiana and Florida; Judges have scheduled a hearing over the next several weeks to consider a permanent injunction. But he lost bids for a ban in Ohio and Texas.
Anti-abortion groups had argued for decades that the question of abortion should be left to the states, and not to the unelected judges in Washington. Within hours of the court’s decision, Republican politicians and law enforcement officials announced that the sanctions once held in court were now in effect, and would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
He denounced the tactics of his opponents in the courts.
“Saying that things like dissolution are mandatory in the constitution of the state” abortionI don’t think that’s a fair interpretation,” said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, after Florida’s decision to temporarily block a law prohibiting abortions after 15 weeks.
Legal challenges argue that the Supreme Court ruling has thrown abortion providers and patients into chaos, subjecting them to state laws that are often vague, contradictory or confusing. For appointments women have only stated that their pregnancy Now abortions after six weeks have gone too far to be eligible for abortion under new laws banning abortions.
In Montana, Planned Parenthood clinics recently said they would require proof of residency for women seeking abortion pills, due to fears that prosecutors in other states could prosecute anyone who has abused their residents. helped her to have an abortion.
Abortion rights groups have not given up on hopes of federal action to protect abortion. They are prompting President Joe Biden to use a declaration of a public health emergency to authorize the Department of Health and Human Services to determine and provide out-of-state providers. abortion pills For women in states where abortion restrictions have made them illegal.
They are also pushing the Senate to suspend its filibuster and pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would establish the right to abortion before viability, as provided in Row. Biden reversed himself on Thursday to say he supported the lifting of the filibuster, though he also told a group of Democratic governors that there were not enough votes in the Senate to do so.
But by necessity, groups focus on state action first.
While the Supreme Court’s opinion, authored by Justice Samuel Alito, declared that it was returning abortion regulation “to the people and their elected representatives”, its ruling has distributed the issue to other courts, states.
“If the Supreme Court and Justice Alito and anti-abortion advocates think it’s going to address this question, they will see how wrong they are,” said Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. News conference on Friday with lawyers and leaders from the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood. “The proliferation of litigation that will engulf the states in our country for years to come is going to underline that this is not on the minds of the public.”
The lawsuits argue that state constitutions provide more protections for abortion than federal constitutions, either by state tradition or by the quirks of history. Some, such as Florida, include an explicit right to privacy. In Kentucky, lawyers argue that their constitution provides for “bodily autonomy” as well as the right to privacy. cry judgment Declared in 1973 that the US Constitution has a right to privacy which includes a woman’s right to an abortion; While the Supreme Court reversed that decision, it generally cannot reverse what states say in their constitutions.
The lawsuit in Utah, one of the nation’s most conservative states, seeks to protect abortion under a provision of the state’s constitution—adopted in 1896—providing that “both male and female citizens of this state are equally All citizens shall enjoy political and religious rights and privileges.”
Due primarily to the influence of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the constitution also ensures that residents of the state have the right to plan their own families. The lawsuit argues that it includes the right to choose an abortion.
Even in states where the lawsuits have been successful, abortion rights groups say they are playing whack-a-mole. In UtahAs the court imposed a temporary injunction on the state’s trigger law banning abortion, a legislator declared that the state’s law against abortion after 18 weeks, which had been upheld by the courts while the row was in effect, was now operative. was the law.
“We’re in a chess game and we haven’t got checkmate,” said Karrie Galloway, CEO of Planned Parenthood in Utah. “We are checking, checking, checking, checking. Unfortunately, we are investigating, probing, examining the lives of pregnant people and their families.”
In Kansas, a 2019 state Supreme Court ruling found the right to abortion under constitutional provisions for “equal and inalienable natural rights, among which are life.” Freedom, and the pursuit of happiness. But anti-abortion groups took an initiative this August on the primary vote, which seeks to amend the constitution to explicitly say it does not include the right to abortion, and that the legislature must pass further restrictions. have the right to do.
That vote will be the first indication of how much the outrage seen in response to the Supreme Court ruling turns into support for abortion rights in elections.
Historically, voters who oppose abortion have been more motivated to vote on the issue than those who support abortion rights. But polls conducted since the leak of a draft Supreme Court ruling in May and the final decision in late June suggest that those who support abortion rights – largely Democrats – now consider it their top concerns. cites as one of them, and that the court’s ruling has prompted them more to vote in the election this fall.
Vote Pro Choice is trying to weed out women, especially blacks and Latinas womenTo vote in races including county commissioners, judges, and sheriffs—particularly in states with restrictive abortion laws such as Texas and Georgia—the post responsible for enforcing anti-harassment laws outside abortion clinics, and deciding whether The crisis is government funding to pregnancy centres, which anti-abortion groups have used to keep women away from abortion.
Democrats need to learn from the successes of anti-abortion groups and Republicans, said Sara Tabatabai, the group’s chief political officer.
“We’ve been out-raised, out-organized, and out-funded for 50 years, and it’s across the board,” she said. But they are encouraged by the number of people who say abortion will guide their votes in November. “In moments of tragedy, I hope solidarity and clarity rise,” she said.
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