The state of Alabama just passed into law what are arguably the strictest prohibitions on abortion in the nation. Both sides of the debate are riled up in anticipation of an eventual battle in the U.S. Supreme Court, which could have implications for the infamous 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.
But it could be quite some time before the Alabama law reaches the Supreme Court, if ever. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court must decide on a couple of major abortion cases that are already pending. These cases also could have serious implications for Roe — though they’ve received less attention in the media.
Pro-life laws in dispute
According to the The Daily Caller, the Supreme Court is currently considering taking up three different abortion cases this year, two from the state of Indiana and one from Louisiana.
The cases from Indiana stem from a slew of pro-life laws signed by then-Gov. Mike Pence. Those Indiana laws included a requirement for an ultrasound at least 18 hours prior to an abortion, a requirement that fetal remains be buried or cremated — instead of sold as spare parts for research — and a ban on trait-selective abortions based on disability, race or sex.
Meanwhile, the Louisiana law would require that abortion providers maintain admitting privileges with a nearby local hospital, just in case something went wrong during a procedure.
Ultrasounds, proper fetal disposal, and no eugenics
The Indiana laws were struck down by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled on the disposal requirements and trait-selective ban together and ruled separately on the ultrasound requirement.
With regard to the disposal requirements, the issue of personhood in relation to a fetus is the primary issue, namely, the point when a fetus would receive the same rights as a person who’d already been born. It has been noted that animal welfare laws extend greater protections to animals than have been extended to unborn humans.
The cases have been sitting before the high court for some time now, and have been deferred and delayed several times already.
Hospital admitting privileges for abortion providers
As for the Louisiana case, it is similar enough to a failed 2016 Texas law that required admitting privileges for abortion providers to be also placed on hold.
Opponents of the law claim it places an “undue burden” on abortion providers, while supporters assert it is only intended to ensure that abortion procedures are as safe as a surgery in an actual hospital.
The law was blocked by a district court, reversed and allowed to proceed by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, only to be blocked once more by the Supreme Court until such time as the merits of the case can be heard.
Decisions on any one of these cases could have serious implications that would undermine, though likely not completely, the 1973 Roe ruling.