Supreme Court’s abortion ruling raises stakes for election

NEW YORK (AP) — Supporters of abortion rights are elated, foes of abortion dismayed and angry, but they agree on one consequence of the Supreme Court’s first major abortion ruling since President Donald Trump took office: The upcoming election is crucial to their cause.

Both sides also say Monday’s ruling is not the last word on state-level abortion restrictions. One abortion rights leader evoked the image of playing whack-a-mole as new cases surface.

The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, struck down a Louisiana law seeking to require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. For both sides in the abortion debate, it was viewed as a momentous test of the court’s stance following Trump’s appointments of two conservative justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

Both justices joined the conservative bloc’s dissent that supported the Louisiana law. But they were outvoted because Chief Justice John Roberts concurred with the court’s four more liberal justices.

The ruling was yet another major decision in which the conservative-leaning court failed to deliver an easy victory to the right in culture war issues during an election year; one ruling protects gay, lesbian and transgender people from discrimination in employment, and the other rejected Trump’s effort to end protections for young immigrants.

Now, anti-abortion leaders say there’s an urgent need to reelect Trump so he can appoint more justices like Gorsuch and Kavanaugh. Abortion rights activists, with equal fervor, say it’s crucial to defeat Trump and end Republican control of the Senate, where the GOP majority has confirmed scores of conservative judges during Trump’s term.

The Louisiana law “was an obvious challenge to our reproductive freedom, and it points to the urgent need to vote for pro-choice candidates from the top of the ballot all the way down,” said Heidi Sieck of #VOTEPROCHOICE, an online advocacy group. “Do this in primaries, do this in runoffs, do this in special elections and do this in the general in November.”

James Bopp Jr., general counsel for National Right to Life, made a similar appeal, from an opposite vantage point.

“This decision demonstrates how difficult it is to drain the D.C. swamp and how important it is that President Trump gets reelected so that he may be able to appoint more pro-life justices,” Bopp said.

The Rev. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life and a member of the Trump campaign’s Catholic voter outreach project, noted that two of the liberal justices — Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Stephen Breyer — are the oldest members of the court.

“Nobody can predict the future, but who’s going to name their replacements when the time comes? That is a question that motivates a lot of voters,” Pavone said.

Anti-abortion activists swiftly made clear that Monday’s ruling would not dissuade them from continuing to push tough abortion restrictions through state legislatures.

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