CHICAGO (CBS Chicago/CBS News) — U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Illinois) was under fire Thursday night for teaming up with Republicans who are trying to get Roe v. Wade overturned.
On Thursday, more than 200 members of Congress signed a legal brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a Louisiana law that severely restricts abortion.
The 39 senators and 168 House members submitted the amicus brief in the case of June Medical Services LLC v. Gee, which the Supreme Court will consider this spring.
All the lawmakers who signed the brief are Republicans, except for two Democrats in the House – of whom Lipinski was one. The other was Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minnesota).
Lipinski is facing progressive Democratic challenger Marie Newman in the primary.
Planned Parenthood Illinois Action denounced Lipinksi for signing onto the amicus brief.
“This case could decide the future of abortion access in this country and we will not not silently stand by and let Congressman Lipinski pledge his support for taking away Illinois woman’s right to a safe and legal abortion,” Brigid Leahy, Senior Director of Public Policy for Planned Parenthood Illinois Action, said in a news release. “We’ve seen 26 abortion bans pass in 2019, and we’re already seeing people having to cross state lines or wait long times just to access basic health care. If the Supreme Court overturns or severely restricts access to abortion, it could pave the way for states to effectively ban abortion for over 25 million people of reproductive age.”
June Medical Services challenged a Louisiana law, passed in 2014 and currently not in effect, which required doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital within 30 miles of the facility where the abortion is performed. If the law is allowed to be implemented, all of Louisiana’s abortion clinics would close, as first reported in October by CBS News.
The federal district court issued a preliminary injunction on the law, which was lifted by the 5th Circuit Court on appeal. The Supreme Court restored the injunction.
In 2016, while the lawsuit by June Medical Services was ongoing, the Supreme Court decided in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt that a similar Texas law was unconstitutional.
Lawmakers argue in the brief that the Supreme Court should uphold the 5th Circuit decision, which found that the law did not place an “undue burden” on women seeking an abortion.
In their brief, the members of Congress also maintain that Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt led to “confusion among Congress and state legislatures alike as to which laws might withstand constitutional scrutiny,” and they say that the decision by the 5th Circuit court should be upheld.
The brief also says that the famous 1992 decision Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, which upheld the right to abortion, caused confusion with its new “undue burden” standard. This standard means that state laws that place an “undue burden” on a “large fraction” of women seeking an abortion are unconstitutional. The court said that an “undue burden” exists if there is a “substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus attains viability.”
“Amici respectfully suggest that the Fifth Circuit’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 Roe and Casey should be reconsidered and, if appropriate, overruled,” the brief says. “Amici” refers to the signatories of the brief.
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