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Ernst, Grassley and King sign legal brief encouraging the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade

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Sen. Joni Ernst, Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Steve King. — illustration by Jordan Sellergren/Little Village, photos public domain

Sen. Joni Ernst, Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Steve King all signed onto a friend-of-the-court brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday that calls Roe v. Wade “haphazard” and “unworkable,” and asks the justices to consider overturning it.

Ernst and Grassley were among 39 senators, all of whom are Republicans, who signed the brief, and King was one of 168 Republicans in the House of Representatives to do so.

The filing comes in a case from Louisiana that is on the court’s spring docket, June Medical Services LLC v. Gee. Several Louisiana health clinics are challenging a 2014 state law requiring “every physician who performs or induces an abortion [to] have active admitting privileges at a hospital that is located not further than thirty miles from the location at which the abortion is performed or induced.”

An injunction has prevented the law from taking effect, until the courts resolve the legal challenge.

The law would potentially force all clinics offering abortion services in Louisiana to close. Many members of the Louisiana legislature have said this is the reason for the law.

In its findings of fact, the federal district court that first heard the case determined “admitting privileges also do not serve ‘any relevant credentialing function,’” and “physicians are sometimes denied privileges … for reasons unrelated to [medical] competency.”

The district court struck down the law as unconstitutional because it would “drastically burden women’s right to choose abortions.”

The state appealed the decision to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is by far the most conservative appeals court in the country. A three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit overturned the district court’s decision, but left the injunction suspending the law in place while the plaintiffs appealed their decision.

In 2016, the Supreme Court found an almost identical law passed by the state of Texas to be unconstitutional.

The Republicans who signed the brief filed on Tuesday want the Supreme Court to uphold the Louisiana law, overturn its decision in the 2016 Texas case and use the current case as an opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade, which established a woman’s right to an abortion in 1973, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1992 case that reaffirmed Roe and prohibited states from creating any “undue burden” on women seeking abortions.

According to the brief, June Medical Services LLC v. Gee “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 signatories to the brief — including Ernst, Grassley and King — are all on record as opposing a woman’s right to choose to terminate a pregnancy.

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Oral arguments before the Supreme Court in the case June Medical Services LLC v. Gee are scheduled for Wednesday, March 4.


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