Commentary

Without Ginsburg, judicial threats to the ACA, reproductive rights heighten


 

Reproductive rights

A woman’s right to abortion – and even to birth control – also has been hanging by a thread at the high court for more than a decade. This past term, Mr. Roberts joined the liberals to invalidate a Louisiana law that would have closed most of the state’s abortion clinics, but he made it clear it was not a vote for abortion rights. The Louisiana law was too similar to a Texas law the court (without his vote) struck down in 2016, Mr. Roberts argued.

Ms. Ginsburg had been a stalwart supporter of reproductive freedom for women. In her nearly 3 decades on the court, she always voted with backers of abortion rights and birth control and led the dissenters in 2007 when the court upheld a federal ban on a specific abortion procedure.

Adding a justice opposed to abortion to the bench – which is what Trump has promised his supporters – would almost certainly tilt the court in favor of far more dramatic restrictions on the procedure and possibly an overturn of the landmark 1973 ruling Roe v. Wade.

But not only is abortion on the line: The court in recent years has repeatedly ruled that employers with religious objections can refuse to provide contraception.

And waiting in the lower-court pipeline are cases involving federal funding of Planned Parenthood in both the Medicaid and federal family planning programs, and the ability of individual health workers to decline to participate in abortion and other procedures.

For Ms. Ginsburg, those issues came down to a clear question of a woman’s guarantee of equal status under the law.

“Women, it is now acknowledged, have the talent, capacity, and right ‘to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation,’ ” she wrote in her dissent in that 2007 abortion case. “Their ability to realize their full potential, the Court recognized, is intimately connected to ‘their ability to control their reproductive lives.’ ”

Kaiser Health News is a nonprofit news service covering health issues. It is an editorially independent program of KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation), which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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