West Virginia Record

Sunday, January 19, 2020

U.S. representatives from W.Va. join in amicus brief challenging abortion decisions

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By Kyla Asbury | Jan 4, 2020


WASHINGTON, D.C. — More than 200 lawmakers filed an amicus brief in support of June Medical Services in a case seeking to have the high court reconsider two abortion decisions.

The amicus brief was filed by 207 U.S. representatives and senators, including West Virginia's Republican Reps. Alex Mooney, David McKinley and Carol Miller. A total of 39 senators and 168 House representatives signed on to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a Louisiana law and reconsider its previous decision in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. They represent a total of 38 states.

Arguments are scheduled to be heard in the case March 4.

The June Medical Services case involves a 2014 statute that required doctors who performed abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of where they were performing abortions.

Abortion-rights advocates argued that the law limited access to patients and was burdensome, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit lifted a preliminary injunction regarding the last in September 2018.

"Like abortion facilities in many states, Louisiana--including June Medical--have a long history of health and safety violations, and Louisiana abortion doctors have a long history of professional disciplinary actions and substandard medical care, the brief states. "This history reveals that not only do Louisiana abortion providers lack the kind of 'close' relationship ordinarily required for third- party standing, but also that there is an inherent conflict of interest between abortion providers and their patients regarding state health and safety regulations."

The brief states that June Medical cannot be presumed to enjoy a “close” relationship with its patients when it comes to legal challenges brought against the very laws the State passes for the protection of the patients’ health and safety, and it should not be deemed to have third-party standing.

"With regard to June Medical’s question presented, Amici submit that while the Fifth Circuit understandably struggled with the meaning of the 'undue burden' standard put forth in Planned Parenthood of Se. Pa. v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992), the court appropriately distinguished Hellerstedt on a record that reflected 'greatly dissimilar' facts and a demonstrable absence of burden on abortion access due to the operation of Louisiana Act 620," the brief states.

The lawmakers respectfully suggest that the appeals court's struggle to define the appropriate "large fraction" or 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 the two cases should be reconsidered and, if appropriate, overruled.

Roe. v. Wade was decided in 1973. In it, the U.S. Supreme Court gave way for women nationwide to have the right to an abortion after it struck down a Texas law.

In Casey, which was decided in 1992, the high court ruled that a Pennsylvania law that required awareness by spouses prior to obtaining an abortion was invalid under the 14th Amendment because it created an undue burden on married women seeking an abortion. It held some regulations, including parental consent, informed consent and a 24-hour waiting period.

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Organizations in this Story

U.S. Supreme CourtU.S. Representative David McKinley (WV-1)U.S. Representative Alex Mooney (WV-2)

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