Pro-choice activists hold signs in response to anti-abortion activists participating in the "March for Life," an annual event to mark the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the US, outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, January 18, 2019. (Getty/Saul Loeb)

Two Democrats join over 200 Republicans in calling for Supreme Court to reconsider Roe v. Wade

The members of Congress say two key abortion decisions "should be reconsidered, and if appropriate, overruled"


Igor Derysh
January 3, 2020 7:55PM (UTC)

More than 200 Republican members of Congress and two Democrats called on the Supreme Court to reconsider its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion nationwide.

More than 160 Republican House members and 38 Republican senators were joined by Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., in signing onto an amicus brief urging the high court to take another look at Roe as part of a challenge to Louisiana’s abortion access law.

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The court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in March on a 2014 Louisiana law, which requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, NBC News reported. The law was blocked by a district judge in 2017 before it was upheld in 2018 by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, who ruled that the law did not pose an “undue burden.” The Supreme Court will take up the case on March 4.

The lawmakers signed on to an amicus brief in the case filed by the anti-abortion group Americans United for Life. The brief argues that "Roe's jurisprudence has been haphazard from the beginning."

The lawmakers argued 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."

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The Louisiana case is the first abortion-related case that will be heard by the court since Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch were confirmed.

Katie Glenn, the government affairs counsel for Americans United for Life, told CNN that while "there is no expectation that this case will overturn Roe v. Wade," “the court has the opportunity to reconsider the cases that have come before this case and in particular related to the workability of Roe and other precedents.”

The American Civil Liberties Union said the brief goes even further than what Louisiana has argued for in the case.

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"The brief is no surprise because anti-abortion politicians have always either taken direct aim at Roe v. Wade or attempted to push abortion access out of reach," ACLU lawyer Brigitte Amiri told CNN. "Notably, this brief goes further than what the state of Louisiana has pushed by suggesting that Roe should be reconsidered even though the questions in the case don't directly raise whether Roe v. Wade should be overturned."

The brief follows another brief signed by nearly 200 Democratic members of Congress led by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., which urged the Supreme Court to protect abortion rights.

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“Anti-choice activists are doing everything they can to eliminate American women’s ability to make their own healthcare decisions,” Schumer said in a statement. “I strongly urge the court to abide by its own precedents and recognize the threat this decision poses to the health of women all across our country.”

“In states across America, women are facing an all-out campaign to dismantle Roe v. Wade and erase their right to comprehensive reproductive health care,” Pelosi added. “The Supreme Court’s long-standing precedents recognizing women’s reproductive rights under the Constitution cannot be defied by states creating obstacles under false pretenses to push those rights out of reach.”


Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is a staff writer at Salon. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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