Abortion opponents see the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court as an opportunity to push for further abortion restrictions. Abortion supporters are preparing for a fight.

The end of the fight over Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination sets up a new battleground over abortion rights, and activists on both sides of the issue are gearing up for what’s likely to be a series of contentious battles from the high court to state legislatures.

Planned Parenthood is unveiling a new strategy designed to prepare for the possibility of a nation without the federal protections for abortion rights outlined in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

In an exclusive interview with NPR, Planned Parenthood Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens said the reproductive rights group is preparing to “super-size” its efforts to connect women with abortion services in what could become an increasingly difficult environment. Already, she said, women in many states with restrictive abortion laws have difficulty obtaining the procedure.

“Over the last years, obviously, there has been a great retraction of access for women in this country in many, many states,” Laguens said.

Abortion rights opponents have been working for decades to pass new restrictions at the state and national levels, with their eyes the ultimate prize: overturning Roe and other Supreme Court decisions that have affirmed the right to an abortion. Both sides see that possibility as far more likely with Justice Kavanaugh on the court. He replaced retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, who had often been the court’s swing vote on abortion and other controversial matters.

Life After Roe?

Planned Parenthood’s new strategy to fight back includes three major components: expanding access in states with laws favorable to reproductive rights; policy work aimed at strengthening reproductive rights; and efforts to reduce stigma surrounding abortion.

If Roe were overturned or substantially weakened, state legislatures would become the front lines of the fight. Officials at Planned Parenthood and other groups are preparing to lobby state lawmakers and other elected officials to strengthen protections for abortion and remove restrictions already on the books.

In states with more liberal laws, abortion rights advocates see an opportunity to shore up and expand access, with an eye toward serving women from other states. That could include expanding access to medicated abortion through telemedicine and using technology to inform women about how and where they can access services, Planned Parenthood officials said.

“Already women across this country have to access funding; they have to access transportation; they have to access housing; they have to access support networks,” Laguens said. “That is gonna be a greater need if there are further restrictions when Roe is attacked by this court.”

In Illinois, the organization has expanded its surgical abortion services from two to five locations over the past two years, said Dr. Amy Whitaker, medical director at Planned Parenthood of Illinois.

Whitaker said she already serves women from throughout the Midwest, and she expects to do that “on overdrive” if Roe is overturned and surrounding states pass increasingly restrictive laws.

“With Kavanaugh on the court we know that we’re gonna need an ironclad network of states and providers across the country where abortion will still be legal and accessible, no matter what happens on the Supreme Court,” Whitaker said.

Cultural influencers

As a final step, Planned Parenthood’s Vice President of Communications, Kevin Griffis, said the organization recently restructured its communications division to create a team focused on working with “cultural influencers” like television writers and producers to tell stories about abortion and reproductive health. The organization has been consulted on shows including CW’s Jane the Virgin, HBO’s Girls and Fox’s Glee,he said.

“[Stigma] truly is at the heart of the attacks that we’re seeing,” Griffis said. “And I think the key to reducing that is really being able to change people’s perception of abortion so that they see it for what it is — which is a really safe medical procedure and a typical, standard part of healthcare.”

Courts and statehouses

Abortion rights opponents also are preparing for the next phase of this fight, said Concerned Women for America CEO and President Penny Nance.

As soon as Kavanaugh was sworn in, Nance said, abortion rights opponents “were talking about, starting to get together and think about the best cases to move forward, to put in front of the court.”

Several states have passed abortion restrictions that are currently being litigated and could eventually come before the Supreme Court. Iowa, for example, passed one of the most restrictive laws earlier this year. That law, banning abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat could be detected, was blocked by a county judge before it could take effect.

Nance said abortion opponents also will be preparing to continue to push for new abortion restrictions at the state level.

“The state legislature for the past 10 years have been very fertile ground for moving the ball down the field on the issue of life,” Nance said. “And so we will continue those efforts, and I think we will continue to see success.”

But first, the mid-terms

While advocates on both sides of the abortion debate are looking ahead to legal battles in the coming months and legislative sessions next year, neither side is losing sight of another opportunity to rally each base — the mid-term elections, now less than a month away.

The abortion rights group NARAL is launching a $750,000 direct mail and digital ad campaign aimed at suburban female voters in eight cities. The group has also launched a $1 million ad campaign targeting Republican candidates and urging abortion rights supporters to “vote them out.” The group is running ads spring-boarding off Kavanaugh’s confirmation and warning that the Republican Party “harms and silences” women.

NARAL, the abortion rights group, has launched a series of digital ads urging abortion rights supporters to vote on the issue.

Fresh off their victory in the Kavanaugh fight, abortion opponents are also running mid-term get-out-the-vote campaigns.

Mallory Quigley, Vice President of Communications for the abortion opponent group Susan B. Anthony List, said her group’s primary focus now is on voter canvassing and other efforts leading up to the mid-term elections next month.

“The Kavanaugh confirmation battle kind of exemplified…why we’ve been engaging in Senate races across the country since last summer,” she said. “And that’s precisely because the Senate is where Supreme Court justices are confirmed.”

Source: https://www.npr.org/2018/10/10/656017613/with-kavanaugh-confirmed-both-sides-of-abortion-debate-gear-up-for-battle

From cops forcibly closing abortion clinics to “abortion tourism,” the country could change overnight.

hen he nominated far-right jurist Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, Donald Trump took another step toward keeping one of the more shameless promises he made as a candidate. He may not have built his wall or drained the proverbial swamp—in fact, DC is dirtier than ever. But it’s starting to look like American women losing the constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy isn’t a matter of if, but when. That’s because once Congress confirms Kavanaugh—which it is all but certain to do—pro-life crusaders will have a court that is more hostile to Roe v. Wade than any that preceded it.

In case you need a refresher, the 1973 ruling decreed, among other things, that a woman’s right to privacy under the 14th Amendment made any state law banning all abortions unconstitutional. If the decision were reversed, then states would again get to decide whether or not to allow women to terminate pregnancies in the abstract. And, depending on the scope of the ruling, some states might prohibit the procedure in every circumstance—even those involving rape or incest or to protect the life of the mother.

For obvious reasons, many millions of Americans are more than a little concerned about the prospect. One of them is Carol Sanger, a professor at Columbia University Law School and the author of About Abortion: Terminating Pregnancy in 21st Century America. We’ve spoken before, and as recently as last year, she told me SCOTUS would sooner back off its 2016 decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt—the ruling that clarified how states couldn’t place an undue burden on women seeking abortions—than go after Roe. Since then, of course, Trump has confirmed a far-right justice who is widely believed to be hostile to Roe in Neil Gorsuch, and nominated another in Kavanaugh. These days, Washington Post columnists are calling a full-on reversal of Roe an inevitability.

But how does a Supreme Court case like Roe getting overturned play out in practice? And what would happen in the minutes, hours, months, and even years after a Supreme Court intern ran across the plaza to deliver such a decision to the masses? To find out, I caught up with Sanger and some other experts who helped me game out the legal, social, and economic repercussions.

Step 1: The search for the right case
In order for pro-life activists to reverse Roe, they need to ensure an abortion-related case is actually argued before the Supreme Court. There are two particularly plausible ways for that to happen, according to Sanger. One has to do with so-called “dismemberment” abortions—which are banned in Mississippi and West Virginia—the legality of which is now being disputed in South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Meanwhile, a federal appeals court in Louisiana is currently deciding whether or not abortion doctors need to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. Although those in favor say keeping a woman taking an abortion pill under a doctor’s watch is for her own good, those opposed say it would place an unnecessary and undue burden on people who want pregnancies terminated. (Making it difficult and expensive to obtain access to abortion under the guise of safety is a common pro-life tactic, though the Supreme Court ruled against a similar maneuver in the aforementioned 2016 case.)

If and when Kavanaugh is confirmed, he’ll join Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito as the fourth justice to believe the Constitution remains a set of fixed rules for America that cannot be re-interpreted despite the world being a rather different place in 2018 than it was in 1787. Meanwhile, “activist judges,” as conservatives like to call anyone who isn’t a strict originalist, believe (or at least aren’t repulsed by the idea that) the Constitution is a living-and-breathing document; the Court includes four such jurists in Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Finally, there’s Chief Justice John Roberts—undoubtedly a very conservative judge who ultimately represents a bit of a wildcard. On paper, he’s a practicing Catholic whose wife was previously involved in a pro-life feminist group, has been touted by conservatives as Originalist, was in the minority on Whole Women’s Health, and even signed a 1990 brief arguing that Roe was wrong.

But according to Sanger, the fate of abortion all comes down to where Roberts falls down on the hallowed principle of stare decisis, or the idea that precedents shouldn’t be overruled unless there’s an extremely good reason. One relevant precedent came from the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in which SCOTUS said it wouldn’t be fair to overturn Roe, in part because an “entire generation” of women had come to rely on the idea of abortion being legal and had subsequently planned lives and careers around that fact.

“[Roberts] has some concern about if his court is gonna be the one that overturns Roe,” Sanger told me. “He could well say that while he might not have approved of Roe in the first place, in the 40 years since the decision was made, we’ve now had two generations of people who have grown up thinking that abortion is legal in America. And we’d really be pulling out the rug from under people if we flipped on that now.”

Step 2: Police close clinics, and abortion becomes a crime in at least four states
But if Roe is overturned, it will be up to each individual state to decide if they want to allow abortion, and when. There are nine states that have constitutional protections on the books right now meant to protect a woman’s right to choose in at least some cases, but there are also nine that never repealed their abortion bans after the Supreme Court rendered them obsolete. Others are in a kind of middle-ground, and still more have already actively anticipated the day there might be another landmark abortion case.

“Some of the states have said, ‘We want to be absolutely ready for a Roe reversal case, and we don’t want to have to wait for the legislature,'” Sanger told me. “And, surprise, surprise, the really nasty states have put laws into effect saying that the second Roe is reversed, a criminal statute springs into effect.”

These so-called trigger laws exist in Louisiana, Mississippi, and North and South Dakota. That means any clinic there would be shut down, one way or another, and fast. Elizabeth Nash, senior state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute, told me how it would play out in each: For instance, the law in Louisiana says that the state will ban abortion if Roe is reversed in such a way as to allow states to ban abortion or if the US Constitution is amended to allow states to ban abortion. Things are much more straightforward in the other three. Mississippi will ban abortion (except when the woman’s life is at risk, or she was impregnated during a rape) ten days after the state attorney general certifies that Roe was overturned, while North Dakota would ban abortion (with exceptions for the mother’s life, as well as rape and incest cases) as soon as a state legislative council approved a recommendation from the state attorney general that the abortion ban was considered constitutional. Meanwhile, South Dakota would criminalize abortion (except for cases in which the mother’s life was at risk) the second states were allowed to do so.

“Both Mississippi and North Dakota have a step that requires some kind of government process to happen,” Nash told me. “The thing is, that given the current political environment in both states, I don’t think these certification steps will take very long.”

Still, it’s not all that likely that people in the middle of undergoing a procedure when the decision came down would be yanked out of the clinic’s office. One somewhat more plausible scenario to consider came in Tennessee, which implemented a mandatory waiting period for abortions in 2015—clinicians did have a brief window (about a month and a half) to adjust to the grim new reality.

Regardless, clinics in anti-abortion states would shutter one way or another, and in a country where the Supreme Court had just equated abortion with murder, everyone from local legislators to governors and mayors to cops to angry hordes of pro-life activists might feel emboldened.

“Technically, if they didn’t close, the police would come and close them down,” Sanger told me. “And I suspect some will actually not close in order to have that confrontation. If I was running a clinic, I’d say, ‘Come and close my doors, and let’s record this.'”

Step 3: Other states scramble to figure out what to do
States have different rules for when their legislatures might go into special sessions to put rules in place outside of regular schedules. In 15 of them, such a session can only be called by a governor, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. But a court decision is often specified as one of the reasons where it would be appropriate to call people in after-hours, which means that some states would very likely go into special session right after Roe was overturned.

“I think you’ll see whole swaths of the country where abortion becomes illegal at least temporarily and women will have to travel across multiple states to get one,” said Gretchen Ely, social work professor at the University of Buffalo and an expert on abortion access.

However, support for Roe is at an all-time high, with about 71 percent of people opposing its reversal in the abstract, according to one recent poll. While abortion remains a hot-button topic that propels a lot of single-issue voters, the average non-evangelical Christian Republican living in Virginia might behave differently in the ballot box than they do on Facebook. If many such people were at odds with lawmakers, we could see the electoral map start to look very different, pretty quickly.

That might make it difficult for women to keep up with what’s legal where, but it would also potentially lead to some changes that progressives might like. “You would have a lot more interest in new and fresh candidates at the state legislative level,” Ely said. “We could see after the midterms some state level [legislatures] flip, even in places we don’t expect. And you will see a lot of involvement when people start showing up to facilities and getting turned away for services that they need.”

She compared what might happen in a red state’s local or statewide election after the reversal of Roe to the Alabama contest in which it took the Republican candidate Roy Moore being accused of child molestation for a Democrat to win the race.

“It’s unfortunate that Roe might have to get overturned to kind of galvanize this momentum, but the climate would be ripe for resistance,” Ely said.Step 4: Women leave the workforce, people have less sex, and crime goes up

Caitlin Knowles Myers, an economist at Middlebury College who studies the effects of reproductive policy, noted that many people in her field predict abortion would be ultimately be legal in 20 states if Roe were overturned. That leaves 30 where access would be significantly, if not completely, cut off.

In the longer term, various academic studies over the years have suggested, the rate of sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis and gonorrhea could drop by as much as 26 percent, because the perceived (and actual) cost of abortion would increase, and people might be less likely to engage in risky sexual behavior. On the other hand, tens of thousands of people would exist who might not have otherwise. Overall effects on population would likely remain relatively small, because many women would just travel to states like New York for healthcare. But if trends in the decades after Roe were any indication, the nation’s crime rate would probably go up.

Myers, who researches the social and economic effects of reproductive health policies, said liberalized access to abortion in the 70s reduced the fraction of women who gave birth before 19 by a third. But that doesn’t mean it’s reasonable to expect that, if that right were taken away, the reduction would be perfectly reversed. We might see more young mothers and shotgun weddings—especially among poor women and women of color unable to access the procedure elsewhere. But a whole lot has changed in the past four decades, including social mores, contraceptive and abortion technologies, and state policy environments. That said, Myers noted, it’s important to keep in mind that three quarters of women seeking abortions are poor or near-poor, and even modest increases in the amount of travel it takes to get an abortion would be cost prohibitive to them.

Meanwhile, many relatively affluent women would continue to find a way to access abortion—probably thanks in part to the rise of some shady industries.

For instance, before Roe, when abortion under most circumstances was only legal in four states, there were chartered trips that would take pregnant women from Detroit to Western New York. The flight, procedure, and a meal were all included in the $400 price tag. Although many more states would likely have some sort of legal abortion upon the reversal of Roe than in the 1970s—and the science and medicine have come a long way since then—it’s possible states like New York and California could become hubs for what can only be described as abortion tourism.

“That could happen,” Myers said. “It did happen.”

Ely, at the University of Buffalo, agreed that so-called entrepreneurs would be able to take advantage of an overturned Roe. She noted that before that decision, but when abortion was already legal in New York, the state had to set up hotlines to take calls from people traveling there. “They’d be taking in women from Pennsylvania, which is an iffy state on the border,” she told me. “Plus people who are coming from places where they can get a cheaper flight to New York than to other places where abortion might remain legal. It will be overwhelming to New York, especially if they don’t have enough time to prepare.”

With abortion clinics in liberal states clogged, another black market that could pop up after Roe would deal in abortion pills. Typically, people who want to miscarry take two drugs—Mifepristone, which causes contractions, and Misoprostol, which induces labor. The latter is also available over the counter in Mexico. “It’s not as effective as two-drug combo, but it’s pretty effective,” Myers said. “The question is to what extent is the government would crack down on this, and what are you getting. That’s always the concern with black-market drugs.”

The internet was not around in 1973, and the relative cost of airfare is certainly lower than it was pre- Roe. That said, it’s not as if you could look to those days as a fully reliable predictor of what would happen if abortion were no longer a right in America. If facilities in New York got clogged and online drug suppliers overwhelmed, the cost of abortion would be likely to increase. Given that upwards of 40 percent of Americans don’t have $400 in savings to cover for an emergency, that would put the cost of the procedure out of reach of a lot of people.

Really, the only thing that could be reliably predicted after the reversal of Roe is chaos.

“It’s unprecedented for a Western nation to regress in that manner,” Ely told me. “A lot of it is going would have to play out minute by minute, hour by hour.”

Source: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/ywkzwm/what-would-happen-in-the-minutes-and-hours-after-the-supreme-court-overturned-roe-v-wade?utm_source=vicefbus

Anti-abortion campaigners tell the high court that safe zones breach their political freedom

Anti-abortion campaigners should be allowed to protest outside clinics, even if it harms the dignity of women entering the clinics or hurts their feelings, lawyers for anti-abortion protesters argued today.

On Tuesday the high court held a hearing into anti-abortion campaigners’ constitutional challenge against Tasmanian and Victorian laws prohibiting protests in “safe zones” outside abortion clinics.

Guy Reynolds, the counsel for the protesters, Kathleen Clubb and Graham Preston, argued for a radical expansion of the implied freedom of political communication to include a general right to protest in public places.

Reynolds began his case with criticism of Tasmania’s “eye-catching” safe zone law – which he said was a “straight up” ban on protest in relation to a particular topic – abortion – which is “often political in nature”.

Unlike the Victorian law – which prohibits communications that are “reasonably likely to cause stress or anxiety” – Reynolds said the Tasmanian law had “no tailoring towards any particular purpose” other than to ban anti-abortion views outside clinics.

Even the Victorian law would cover “just about any [speech] that is anti-abortion”, he said, with law-abiding citizens suffering a “chilling effect”.

Reynolds submitted safe zone laws breach the implied freedom of political communication because they ban conduct that would “not otherwise be unlawful”. Citing the great number of laws that already prohibit “besetting, harassing, obstructing and intimidating”, he argued the laws were not justified by public safety because their only incremental effect is to ban peaceful protests.

Justices Michelle Gordon and Virginia Bell posed that the purpose of the law was to preserve women’s dignity and prevent them being deterred from seeking medical services, with Bell citing women “in a vulnerable state” confronted with images of foetuses in varying states of development.

Reynolds replied this was “not a mischief that is established by evidence” and the law was not tailored to a ban on behaviour reasonably likely to affect access but rather was a ban on all protest.

Reynolds claimed that the effect of women delaying abortions was not “some form of grave physical harm” but rather the possibility of a “slightly worse result”, despite expert evidence from the Victorian case it could force women to get surgical abortions and later surgery is more complex.

Reynolds then claimed it was “difficult to say” and “not identified” by the Tasmanian government whether being deterred from seeking an abortion was itself a harm.

This earned an extraordinary rebuke from chief justice Susan Kiefel, who ordered him to “address the legal position” and not to adopt his clients’ personal ethical or moral position about deterring an abortion.

Reynolds submitted that “avoidance of psychiatric harm” is an important aim but “the avoidance of hurt feelings is not”, arguing that criticism and “the resultant loss of dignity” are “inherent in political speech”.

Reynolds compared anti-abortion views that may harm the dignity of women seeking abortion to “criticism of bankers” or “criticism of men by feminists” as “part and parcel” of political speech.

Kristen Walker, the solicitor general of Victoria, told the court the law was designed to tackle the “full spectrum” of behaviour that cause stress and anxiety – from “polite” statements directed at women’s personal medical decisions, to noisy protests featuring “images of dismembered foetuses” and “frightening false statements”, such as that abortion causes cancer.

Walker submitted that “on no view” is the law directed at the mere prevention of hurt feelings, arguing that women miss appointments and staff are often too afraid to go get a coffee because of persistent protest activity.

Earlier, Reynolds cited developing jurisprudence in Hong Kong about reasonable access to a highway to suggest that there is a general common law right to freedom of assembly and to use public places for protest.

Attempts to expand the Australian jurisprudence were given short shrift by Kiefel, who noted Australian law does not recognise a general right to communication of political matters, only an implied freedom that limits legislative power and is “not a personal right”. Reynolds conceded that his submission was “not the traditional view”.

Reynolds submitted that anti-abortion protests have “great communicative power” when held outside clinics that perform abortions, likening them to apartheid protests held at sporting events involving the South African national team.

The Victorian and Tasmanian governments have defended their laws on the basis it is legitimate to protect the safety, privacy and dignity of persons accessing lawful medical services, staff and others accessing abortion clinics.

Coalition governments in New South Wales, South Australia and the Commonwealth as well as Labor governments in Queensland and Western Australia have intervened in the case to defend safe zone laws.

The court adjourned on Tuesday afternoon. The cases are listed for two further days’ hearing.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/09/abortion-clinic-protests-should-be-allowed-even-if-womens-dignity-hurt-lawyer?CMP=soc_567

A city council member from Parkersburg City, W.Va., on Saturday celebrated Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court with a Facebook comment saying liberals “better get … [their] coathangers ready,” according to Newsweek.

Parkersburg City councilman and anti-abortion activist Eric Barber made the comment in response to Sen. Joe Manchin‘s (D-W.Va.) “yes” vote on Kavanaugh, which solidified Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the high court.

“Coat hangers” are typically invoked as a reference to highly dangerous back-alley abortions.

Kavanaugh’s nomination was surrounded by anxious speculation by abortion rights advocates who said he could be the determining vote in overturning the landmark case Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the U.S.

Barber deleted the post but community members have continued to circulate a screenshot of it, Newsweek reported.

Barber’s fellow councilman Bob Mercer told local outlet Deep South Voice that he was not intentionally referencing self-induced abortions.

“When he was in Washington, D.C., this year the day Justice Kavanaugh was nominated, a lady threw a coat hanger at him and hit him in the face for being happy about it,” Mercer told Deep South Voice. “He admitted that he should have explained it instead of letting it sit there.”

Barber himself did not respond to Deep South Voice’s requests for comment.

“We on Council are kept to a higher standard,” Mercer said, according to the Deep South Voice. “Understand that this statement does not reflect the feelings [of others on the Council].”

Kavanaugh stated during his first set of Senate Judiciary Committee hearings that he understands “the importance of the precedent set forth in Roe v. Wade.”

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a pivotal swing vote in his confirmation, said she believes he will not overturn Roe v. Wade based on private conversations she had with him.

Democrats have continued to raise concern about the future of abortion in the U.S., with Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) on Sunday claiming future judicial and legislative decisions will nullify Roe v. Wade.

Source: https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/410471-west-virginia-councilman-responds-to-kavanaugh-confirmation-get-your

Confirmation likely to push America’s highest court to the right for a generation and give Republicans swing vote in ideologically charged legislation

Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court on Saturday is widely expected to swing America’s highest court to the right for generation.

He was appointed in spite of accusations of sexual assault and amid questions over his impartiality, stoked further when he launched a blazing attack on Democrats questioning him.

Though he demurred during his confirmation hearings when asked how he would vote on controversial topics from abortion rights to impeachment he is expected to be a key swing vote for Republicans

Abortion rights (Roe v Wade)

The ruling which guaranteed women in all states access to abortion is under regular attack from conservative and religious groups. There are regular test cases brought to the Supreme Court which could be used to weaken or overturn the original ruling.

Mr Kavanaugh is likely to occupy the deciding vote in future cases and has said he sees previous judgements uphold these rights as “important precedent”. This was enough to reassure Republican senator Susan Collins, a deciding vote in his confirmation, to back Mr Kavanaugh.

However President Trump has repeatedly said he would appoint justices to overturn Roe v Wade and Mr Kavanaugh declined to say, during his hearings, what he would do if such a case came up.

In a 2017 opinion as a Washington DC circuit judge Mr Kavanaugh opposed a decision to allow a girl who was an undocumented minor in the government’s care to have an abortion, and may well support changes that increase red tape or delays in accessing treatment.

He has also opposed Obamacare principles which required religious organisations to provide contraception to employees, saying this infringed their religious liberties.

Gun control

Mr Kavanaugh may resist cases seeking to restrict or limit the “right to bear arms” set out in the second amendment.

He has opposed the District of Columbia’s ban on semi-automatic rifles. In a 2011 opinion he said the constitutional protections afforded to semiautomatic handguns should be logically extended to the high powered assault weapons and DC’s ban was unconstitutional.

Mr Kavanaugh was pressed on this objection during the Supreme Court nomination process and said that “semiautomatic rifles are widely possessed in the United States”.

“That seemed to fit common use in not being a dangerous and unusual weapon.”

Semi-automatic rifles, modified with a “bump stock” which allows the weapon to be continuously fired without releasing the trigger between shots, were used in the massacre of 59 people in Las Vegas in 2017.

Investigation into Russian collusion and impeachment

Another reason suggested for the president’s backing of Mr Kavanaugh is his belief in executive power. He wrote in a 2009 article in the Minnesota Law Review that Congress should consider a law “exempting” the sitting president from criminal prosecution and investigation.

However in the same argument he said that the impeachment process would still be available “if the president does something dastardly”.

President Trump has repeatedly called special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election a “rigged witch hunt”. Though it has so far not uncovered evidence against the president that might spark a move to impeachment.

Climate change and the environment

Mr Kavanaugh wrote in response to Obama-era rules to limit emissions by power plants that he recognises “the Earth is warming and humans are contributing” and said actions to tackle this are “laudable”.

However he has opposed the plans, and others by the Environmental Protection Agency seeking to limit emissions or other forms of pollution, when the body has acted without specific authorisation from Congress.

State surveillance and national security

Mr Kavanaugh has said the mass collection of US citizens’ phone records, exposed by former National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, did not fall foul of constitutional rules prohibiting search and seizure without a warrant.

He added that preventing terrorist attacks through the collection of phone numbers and call duration addresses a “critical national security need” that “outweighs the impact on privacy occasioned by this programme”.

Source: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/brett-kavanaugh-roe-wade-abortion-christine-ford-gun-control-trump-impeachment-environment-a8573186.html?utm_term=Autofeed&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook#Echobox=1538980510

The Senate is slated to vote on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court this week, and should Kavanugh be confirmed, the ideological makeup of the nation’s highest court would shift instantly and dramatically.

With the midterm elections looming and control of Congress hanging in the balance as well, women’s health and reproductive rights lawyers are expressing concern about the effect a conservative court and a Republican-controlled Congress could have on women’s access to abortion care.

They believe that — should Kavanaugh be confirmed — the anti-abortion movement would be poised to do what President Donald Trump promised two years ago during his campaign: to limit or even scrap American women’s access to abortion care altogether.

During his 2016 presidential campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump said the Supreme Court would “soon” overturn the landmark case, Roe v. Wade, which made abortion legal nationwide, because as president he planned to only appoint specifically “pro-life” justices willing retry and reevaluate those cases.

“With the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, women [would] be facing the greatest threat to their constitutional right to abortion since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973,” former Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius told reporters on a call with Planned Parenthood political activists on Wednesday.

Should Republicans maintain control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate Congress could, in theory, pass a nationwide ban and wait for a lawsuit against the new law to move the case through the courts and challenge the Supreme Court to re-evaluate Roe v. Wade again.

Currently four states — Mississippi, Louisiana, North Dakota and South Dakota — have so-called “trigger laws” on the books, which would automatically ban and criminalize abortion for patients and providers if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned.

However, it is more likely that instead of scrapping Roe v. Wade all together, the Supreme Court could uphold new restrictions on abortion care access passed at the state level. Without formally overturning the Roe v. Wade decision, per se, states could still seriously limit how and when American women can receive an abortion.

“The threat to abortion access is very imminent and real, because there are dozens of cases regarding abortion and reproductive rights making their way through the lower courts that could get to the Supreme Court soon,” Diana Kasdan, senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, told ABC News over the phone.

“The court does not have to overturn Roe to fully undermine the right to abortion.”

Nationwide, there are at least 14 relevant cases currently pending before federal courts of appeals, making each one of those 14 cases potentially just one step away from being heard by the Supreme Court.

“Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination is really a culmination of a long-term strategy to get rid of Roe, whether that is formally overturning it or gutting it so completely that it is meaningless. The anti-abortion movement sees Brett Kavanaugh as their ability to do that,” Gretchen Borchelt, Vice President for Reproductive Rights and Health at the National Women’s Law Center, told ABC News.

During his confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate, Kavanaugh referred to Roe v. Wade as “settled” precedent of the Supreme Court and this “entitled to respect.”

“It has been reaffirmed many times over the past 45 years,” he continued, talking to senators. However, anti-abortion leaders argue that the issue is not settled culturally or politically in the country.

The National Women’s Law Center categorizes these major legal cases as well as other pending legislation into buckets: bans on when during a pregnancy a woman can get an abortion, restrictions on how a woman can receive an abortion medically (which includes proposed bans on certain procedures), and limitations and restrictions placed on abortion providers.

WHEN: Laws and legislation about when a woman can get an abortion

Several states have passed successive laws banning abortions earlier and earlier into a woman’s pregnancy. Last spring, Iowa legislators signed into law one of the nation’s most restrictive abortions rules, prohibiting any abortions after a fetal heartbeat could be detected with an ultrasound, which is normally around six weeks into a pregnancy. A state court in Iowa temporarily halted the ban and the law is still being litigated.

Similarly, a federal court judge temporarily halted a Mississippi ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The case is pending before a federal district court and could be appealed to the Supreme Court after a ruling.

Louisiana followed Mississippi’s lead and also passed a ban on abortions after 15 weeks. Louisiana’s law remains in limbo, waiting on the court decision regarding the Mississippi ban.

Last spring, a federal appellate court ruled that an abortion-related law passed in Indiana was unconstitutional. The law, among other provisions, prohibited women from seeking abortions at any time in a pregnancy, based on a medical diagnosis of a disability, such as Down syndrome.

The state of Indiana specifically asked for and was granted an extension until the end of this month to consider appealing the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

HOW: Laws and legislation about how a woman can get an abortion

The legislation passed in Indiana, which was ultimately struck down by lower courts, also required all aborted fetal or embryonic tissue be buried or cremated.

Medical providers successfully argued that those legal mandates regulations would be too burdensome for clinics and doctors. However, Indiana could still appeal that ruling, if necessary, all the way to the Supreme Court.

Similarly, Indiana’s sweeping law included rules about how long a woman would have to wait between doctor visits to receive an abortion, and if she would be required to have an ultrasound. All of those provisions are still working their way through the court system too.

Indiana’s Right to Life organization wrote in a statement to local papers after various parts of the Indiana law were struck down, saying that the organization hoped the state would appeal the last decision and petition the Supreme Court to weigh in.

“This is the civil rights battle of our time,” Sue Swayze Liebel, the organization’s vice president of public affairs, said in a statement. “Previous Supreme Court decisions that give states authority to regulate abortion give us great hope that the justices would side with Indiana’s right to recognize civil rights protections for children in the womb.”

Texas and Louisiana legislators had also tried to enact laws requiring cremation or burial of embryonic or fetal tissue after an abortion. The Center for Reproductive Rights worked with a team of other activists and blocked the Texas law in a lower district court, but Texas has already decided to appeal that decision to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

States governments have long tried to ban specific abortion procedures as well. In August, a federal court struck down a restriction that legislators in the state of Alabama passed, which would have banned the most common type of surgical abortions.

Father Frank Pavone of the National Pro-Life Religious Council and Priests for Life organization applauded the president’s nomination of Kavanaugh to the bench. Kavanaugh, while on the Washington, D.C. circuit court bench, had previously sided with their organization in a lawsuit against the federal government.

“We knew his judicial philosophy already and it was one that we thought was correct.” Pavone told ABC News on the phone. Pavone argued that while the patchwork of abortion laws across the country can be difficult, but perhaps reflects the varying constituencies state to state. “The court has made itself the arbiter of every abortion law that the states pass. It should not have to be that way. We actually want a less heavy-handed approach from the court when it comes to abortion legislation.”

On the other hand, Pavone conceded that ultimately they believe the U.S. Supreme Court will have to weigh in again and re-evaluate the fundamental question of constitutional rights and woman’s right to abortion care.

Limitations and restrictions placed on providers and more

In 2016, health leaders won a major victory with the Supreme Court case referred to as Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

The case struck down a Texas law which aimed to close abortion clinics and limit providers. The U.S. Supreme Court decided a state could not place such substantial obstacles in the path of women seeking an abortion and that undue burdens violates the Constitution.

With the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, women (would) be facing the greatest threat to their constitutional right to abortion since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973.

Women’s reproductive healthcare leaders worry though that states and lower federal courts already push the boundaries of that decision from two years ago, with the hope of bringing some of the issues back to the top court, if the makeup of the court changes.

“I do think we face a moment now where courts that are looking for a way to uphold restrictions are going to push the line,” Kasdan added. She said that without the Supreme Court providing clear standards, it would be harder for groups like hers, the Center for Reproductive Rights, to go up against the onslaught of proposed state-level restrictions in recent years.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals lately interpreted the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt standard very differently when weighing in on a case in Missouri, allowing several restrictions similar to those struck down in Texas to stand.

There are also a handful of states that have attempted to enact laws that cut off funding to Planned Parenthood clinics by prohibiting patients on Medicaid from using their benefits at those clinics for any services.

“Most people don’t think they are going to need an abortion, that is not something they expect, but if they were to find themselves in a situation, they think they could just go get one. They don’t realize how many restrictions have passed in the last few years,” Borchelt said.

“If Judge Kavanaugh become Justice Kavanaugh, [anti-abortion legislators] will be ready,” she said. “It won’t be the day after, but I expect [that in] January 2019, there would be a slew of new kinds of abortion restrictions that state legislatures are introducing in the hope of getting that perfect case up to the court,” she continued.

Borchelt added, though, that an influx of Democrats or new state lawmakers could stem the tide of abortion access restrictions passed at the local level.

Source: https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/News/talks-roe-wade-womens-health-groups-supreme-court/story?id=58253693

If Judge Brett Kavanaugh is appointed to the US Supreme Court, his tenure could represent the greatest threat to reproductive freedoms since the landmark 1973 case Roe v Wade legalized abortion in America, many reproductive rights groupshave said.

Although Kavanaugh’s record on reproductive rights is limited, President Trump made pro-life views a litmus test for filling retired Justice Anthony Kennedy’s seat. Kavanaugh is a Catholic, and in the past argued against allowing a pregnant 17-year-old undocumented migrant to obtain an abortion.

A final vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation could come as early as Saturday. Republicans have a two-vote margin to approve Kavanaugh, whose confirmation process has been mired in allegations of attempted rape and sexual assault. He denies the allegations.

Already, there are cases in the pipeline that could give the supreme court an opportunity to severely limit women’s access to abortion, either by overturning Roe v Wade or hollowing out its protections.

  • Nearly half of US states could limit abortion within two years

    There are already two cases before appellate courts, one level down from the supreme court, that could give the country’s highest court an opportunity to limit abortion access as soon as June 2019.

    If Roe v Wade was overturned, 24 US states would likely move to ban or severely limit abortion upon reconvening, at earliest within seven months of the supreme court’s decision.

  • If Roe v Wade was overturned, four states would automatically ban abortion

    Mississippi, Louisiana, North Dakota and South Dakota, already have “trigger laws”, or statutes that would automatically ban abortion if Roe v Wade were overturned.

    However, across broad parts of America, the move would also likely prompt many other state legislatures to try to pass new laws to restrict abortion access. Those most likely to do so are those which have already enacted severe restrictions.

  • Twenty-one states already have severe limits

    For example, 21 states limit when a pregnant woman can get an abortion based on the age of the fetus. For example, in Iowa, that restriction is based on when doctors can hear a heartbeat, at about six weeks. Because that is before most women know they are pregnant, it is effectively a de facto ban on abortion.

    Laws that ban abortion before a fetus can survive outside the womb are unconstitutional, but 21 states have nevertheless passed such bans, most at 20 weeks. Most fetuses do not survive outside the womb before 24 weeks. A full-term pregnancy is 39 weeks. Many of these laws are the subject of court challenges.

  • Twenty-four states have anti-abortion legislatures

    Twenty-four states have anti-abortion legislatures, making it likely they would move to enact abortion restrictions after a supreme court decision further restricted abortion. They would also be likely to several restrict access.

Source: Center for Reproductive Rights

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2018/jun/30/abortion-supreme-court-law-anthony-kennedy?CMP=fb_gu