Reversing Roe: The GOP’s Ultimate Abortion Plan
The Supreme Court has yet to include bad dreams in its abortion jurisprudence-or, for that matter, fetal pain. But the abortion bans rippling across state legislatures are meant to offer as many routes as possible for the Justices to change their minds-or really, just one Justice, Anthony Kennedy.
“It’s almost a spaghetti-against-the-wall argument,” says Janet Crepps, senior counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights.
“If there’s one reason why you can move the line off of viability,” says Crepps-whether “fetal pain” or purported risks to the woman-“then there are a hundred reasons.” At that point, why stop at 20 weeks?Twenty weeks is well before viability, the dividing line Kennedy himself helped set for when abortions cannot be banned. But the last time the Court ruled on abortion, in 2007, it upheld the so-called federal “Partial Birth Abortion Ban,” reversing its own precedent. “That signaled that they were willing to at least consider a little bit more-to give the states a bit more freedom to pass laws that people in their states were wanting,” says Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life. “We try to work within that framework. It’s a very gray area.”
Both sides believe that if Justice Kennedy can be persuaded to waver on the viability line, all bets are off.
“If there’s one reason why you can move the line off of viability,” says Crepps-whether “fetal pain” or purported risks to the woman-“then there are a hundred reasons.” At that point, why stop at 20 weeks?