HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Forever embedded in American democracy by the founders, the Supreme Court of the United States is quite simply the "guardian of our constitution" and the final arbiter of the rules under which our society functions. That means the decisions rendered by the 9 justices directly impact the lives of millions of Americans.
This week’s special panel Chris Tritico, FOX 26 legal analyst; Michelle Byington, conservative attorney; Craig Jackson, Professor, TSU Thurgood Marshall School of Law; Bob Price, Associate Editor of Breitbart Texas; Carmen Roe, Houston attorney; Judge Eric Andell, “Three Amigos” KSEV Radio.
No issues before the court is more divisive, more emotional and in many ways more fundamental than a woman's right to choose. In recent months, states legislatures in Alabama, Georgia and Missouri have pushed through highly restrictive laws on abortion, with the express purpose of challenging Roe vs. Wade and forcing the Supreme Court to reconsider this incendiary issue.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - July 5, 2019 A federal judge will hold a hearing on a challenge to three new abortion restrictions in Arkansas two days before the laws are set to take effect.
U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker on Friday scheduled a July 22 hearing on the new laws, including one that bans the procedure 18 weeks into a woman's pregnancy. The laws are set to take effect on July 24 and are being challenged by the state's abortion providers.
The providers say another one of the laws would likely force the state's only surgical abortion clinic to close. Arkansas currently bans abortion 20 weeks into a woman's pregnancy.
Baker gave the state until July 18 to file a response to the providers' lawsuit. Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed the restrictions into law earlier this year.
DENVER (AP) - July 3, 2019 A proposal to ban abortions at 22 weeks in Colorado moved closer to being on next year's ballot on Wednesday.
The state's title board, made up of representatives of the Secretary of State's Office, the state Attorney General's Office and the Legislature's legal office, agreed the measure dealt with only one issue as required by state law and approved preliminary wording for the ballot. However, anyone who disagrees with the decision can appeal to the board within the next week and possibly to the state Supreme Court after that.
Proponents won't be cleared to collect signatures until those legal options are exhausted.
The proposal on what proponents call late-term abortions would make it illegal for anyone to perform an abortion when a fetus is at 22 weeks of gestation or after. It would allow abortions after that time if a pregnant woman's physical health is endangered but there would be no exception to protect her psychological health.
Colorado is one of seven states without any time limits on when women can get an abortion. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 17 states have laws banning abortion at 22 weeks.
The lawyer for the proponents, Suzanne Staiert, said she thinks that voters will agree that a fetus at 22 weeks is a person. She pointed out that the measure would prevent many abortions from being performed at a Boulder clinic that specializes in late second- and third-trimester abortions.
"This is not a theoretical argument for us. This a very home-based issue," she said, referring the Boulder Abortion Clinic run by Dr. Warren Hern.
Hern said he sees women from Colorado, other states and as far away as Australia seeking abortions late in their pregnancy often because they have only recently discovered catastrophic fetal abnormalities. He said many are referred to him by other doctors and hospitals because of his over 40 years of experience in late abortions. He estimated the proposal would prevent him from performing abortions on several hundred women a year.
"I'm the collateral damage. The target is the freedom and health and welfare of women," he said.
Proponents would need to collect at least 124,632 valid signatures from registered voters - at least 5% of the total votes cast in the Secretary of State's race in the last election - to get on the 2020 ballot.
In its Roe v. Wade decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held that states could prohibit abortion after a fetus is considered viable. At the time of the ruling, the court said a fetus was typically considered viable at 24 to 28 weeks. Studies since then have found that some babies born as soon as 22 weeks have survived.
Colorado was the first state to loosen restrictions on abortion in 1967, six years before the U.S. Supreme Court would legalize it nationally in the Roe decision.
Previous attempts to pass outright bans on all abortion have been overwhelmingly rejected in the state.
Constitutional amendments to give embryos the rights of born humans were rejected by voters in 2008 and 2010. In 2012, backers of the personhood amendment failed to make the ballot after falling 3,900 signatures short of the amount needed at the time - 86,000.
In 2014, voters decisively rejected a different proposal that would have added unborn human beings to the state's criminal code, allowing prosecutors to charge anyone who kills a fetus with a crime.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - July 3, 2019 A federal judge temporarily blocked an Ohio law banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected on Wednesday, siding with abortion clinics that had argued the law would effectively end the procedure in the state.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett halts the July 11 enforcement of the so-called heartbeat bill law that opponents argued would effectively ban the procedure. That's because a fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks into pregnancy, before many women know they're pregnant.
Ohio is among a dozen states that have considered similar legislation this year, as abortion opponents have pursued a national anti-abortion strategy to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision fueled by a conservative swing on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Courts have already blocked substantially similar laws in Kentucky and Mississippi. Abortion providers also have sued in Alabama and Georgia.
However, Barrett said it is his opinion that Planned Parenthood and abortion clinics represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights attorneys that sued to stop the law "are certain to succeed on the merits of their claim that (the bill) is unconstitutional on its face."
"The law is well-settled that women possess a fundamental constitutional right of access to abortions," he wrote.
Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed the Ohio law in April, after predecessor John Kasich, a fellow Republican, twice vetoed it.
His spokesman, Dan Tierney said: "Gov. DeWine has long believed that this issue would ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court."
Freda Levenson, legal director for the ACLU of Ohio, said in an emailed statement the decision "upheld the clear law: women in Ohio (and across the nation) have the constitutional right to make this deeply personal decision about their own bodies without interference from the state."
Ohio Right to Life, the state's oldest and largest anti-abortion group, called the judge's decision disappointing but not surprising.
"The heartbeat bill has the potential to be the vehicle that overturns Roe v. Wade," Mike Gonidakis, the group's president, said in a statement. "We know that this temporary restraining order is just a step in the process to finally seeing Roe reconsidered."
Abortion rights advocates praised the decision.
"With Gov. DeWine's attack on abortion rights now blocked, the doctors, nurses, staff, and volunteers at nine facilities across the state can continue to assist patients in safely terminating a pregnancy," NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Deputy Director Jaime Miracle said in an emailed statement.
Ohio Democratic Chairman David Pepper noted that Barrett, who joined the court in 2006, was nominated by Republican President George W. Bush.
"Year after year, Ohio Republicans have continued to push plainly unconstitutional legislation, and now a federal judge - a Republican appointee - has blocked their latest attempt to ban abortion and punish doctors in the state. The Ohio GOP is wasting taxpayer resources, and they are putting Ohioans' lives in danger with their attacks on reproductive health care."