Republican Lawmakers Call on Supreme Court to Overturn Landmark Abortion Cases

Supermajority Education Fund

January 7, 2020

On Jan. 2, 207 Congressional lawmakers and Americans United for Life, a major anti-abortion group, filed amicus briefs arguing that the U.S. Supreme Court should revisit and overturn two landmark decisions on abortion: Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The members of Congress, who were Republican save for two Democrats, stated in the brief that the Court should use the case it will hear on March 4, June Medical Services, LLC  v. Gee, to argue that a national right to abortion is not feasible. 

June Medical Services, LLC  v. Gee focuses on whether or not Louisiana’s law requiring physicians who provide abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital is in conflict with the court’s 2016 decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. In that case, the court ruled that a similar 2013 Texas law could not stand because placing such restrictions on the delivery of abortion care created an undue burden for people seeking abortions.

The 207 lawmakers stated, “The Fifth Circuit’s struggle to … determine what ‘burden’ on abortion access is ‘undue’ illustrates the unworkability of the ‘right to abortion’ found in Roe v. Wade and the need for the Court to again take up the issue of whether Roe and Casey should be reconsidered and, if appropriate, overruled.”

A June 2019 NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found that 77 percent of respondents said the Court should uphold Roe. According to a May 2019 Quinnipiac University National Poll, when asked if abortion should be legal in all cases, 28 percent of Americans said yes, which is the highest level of support since the poll began in 2004, and 32 percent said abortion should be legal in most cases. 

Should the Supreme Court overturn Roe. v. Wade, low-income women and women of color would bear the brunt of that decision. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 49 percent of abortion patients in 2014 had an income below the poverty level — an increase compared to 27 percent in 2000. Black women and Latinx women have higher rates of unintended pregnancy and higher rates of abortion rates than white women, which may be a result of barriers they have to consistent access to birth control.

“As support for abortion access climbs, anti-abortion politicians have gotten bolder and bolder with their attempts to make abortion virtually impossible to access in parts of this country,” Jenny Lawson, vice president of organizing and engagement campaigns for Planned Parenthood Votes, told Supermajority News. 

Lawson added that Planned Parenthood advocacy and political organizations will respond by joining independent abortion providers, reproductive justice organizations, and local activists to push back against abortion restrictions in state legislatures and “at the ballot box.”

Across the U.S., there are 13 states that protect the right to an abortion even if Roe is overturned. Two states codify the right to an abortion without state interference — Vermont and Oregon — and 11 states would protect abortion before the fetus is viable.