USA – A RESPONSE TO THE RULING – The Supreme Court’s abortion pill ruling should satisfy nobody

“On 13 June, the Supreme Court did the bare minimum necessary to operate like an actual court of law, unanimously throwing out an absurd and dangerous lawsuit against medication abortion. The justices do not deserve extra credit for refusing to embrace this deeply unserious litigation, and they should earn no gold stars for maintaining the legal status quo on abortion pills. They merely acted as minimally responsible adults in a room of sugared-up preschoolers, shutting down the lower courts’ lawless rampage over all known rules of standing in desperate pursuit of an anti-abortion agenda. It is chilling to the bone that activist lawyers and judges were able to wreak as much havoc as they did before the Supreme Court put them in time-out.”

“And this bad joke of a case isn’t even over: A lower court has already teed up a do-over that could once again jeopardize access to reproductive health care in all 50 states. Don’t call this decision a victory. It is at best a reprieve  ̶  an election-year performance of Supreme Court unanimity and sobriety that masks the damage the conservative supermajority has already inflicted, as well as the threats to reproductive freedom that lie ahead.”

“Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar avowed in her briefing and again at oral argument that federal conscience protections guarantee all doctors an absolute right to refuse the provision of any treatment they morally oppose. So, Kavanaugh wrote, the plaintiffs “have not shown that they could be forced to participate in an abortion or provide abortion-related medical treatment over their conscience objections” because existing law “definitively protects” their right to refusal. That’s true even in a “healthcare desert, where other doctors are not readily available.” A doctor who opposes abortion, the court affirmed, may stand by and watch a patient bleed out rather than treat her in contravention of his conscience. Ironically, then, an anti-abortion statute that protects anti-abortion doctors played a key role in defeating the plaintiffs’ claim. Their own lavish safeguards against terminating a pregnancy—or even just treating a patient who already terminated a pregnancy—helped defeat their attempt to pull mifepristone off the market.”

This article provides a brief history of the ways in which biased judges in the US are ignoring the law and making rulings that ignore evidence, including in documents that are later retracted for providing false information. The authors argue strongly, as many others do too, that the threats to abortion pills are far from over. First, and most obviously, it remains unlawful to prescribe them in states that have criminalized abortion. Mifepristone has even been deemed a “controlled substance” in Louisiana. Second, the Texas judge will probably try to find another way to keep the lawsuit alive, even though this first failure has not exactly helped his legal reputation.

SOURCE: Slate, by Dahlia Lithwick, Mark Joseph Stern, 13 June 2024 ;  PHOTO by Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images, in The Conversation, 14 June 2024