On Wednesday, newly formed all-male Supreme Court took a different stance on abortion, upholding a rule that forbids most such procedures outside of the first few weeks of pregnancy.
The country’s ability to get legal abortions is continuing to decline. South was appointed when Republican state lawmakers removed Justice Kaye Hearn, the court’s lone female member, who had reached the state’s required retirement age.
The 4-1 judgment deviates from the court’s own judgment that overturned a similar restriction that the Republican-led legislature passed in 2021 months earlier. The most recent prohibition is effective right now.
Justice John Kittredge, writing for the new majority, acknowledged that the 2023 law also violated “a woman’s right to privacy and bodily autonomy,” but claimed that the state Legislature reasonably decided this time that those interests didn’t outweigh “the interest of the unborn child to live.”
Balancing the Scales of Justice
According to Kittredge, “as a Court, we must uphold the Act unless we can say that the balance struck by the Legislature was unreasonable as a matter of law.”
Chief Justice Donald Beatty offered the lone dissent, arguing that the 2023 law is nearly identical and that definitions for terms like “fetal heartbeat” and “conception” provide no clarity on when the ban begins to expose doctors to criminal charges.
Kittredge wrote that “we leave for another day,” a determination on what the law’s language means for when precisely during a pregnancy the ban should begin, likely foreshadowing another protracted legal battle on that issue.
The 2023 rule prohibits the majority of abortions after heart activity is identified, which is said to occur roughly six weeks following a pregnant woman’s last menstruation. This was described by legislators as “the steady and repetitive rhythmic contraction of the fetal heart within the gestational sac.”
Beatty, however, said that the heart doesn’t grow until later in a pregnancy and that the fetus doesn’t yet exist at six weeks because it is still an embryo. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, calling this “cardiac activity” a heartbeat is incorrect.
Source: cbs news