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Op-Ed: Why abortion rights are still at risk

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Shortly after Brett Kavanaugh joined the Supreme Court in 2018, legal commentators declared the death of Roe vs. Wade, and some red states rushed to pass bans that they fully expected the new conservative court majority to uphold.

With the results of June Medical Services vs. Russo this week, supporters of legal abortion can’t help but feel relieved. The court reaffirmed that unduly burdensome abortion restrictions cannot stand.

Nonetheless, it’s a mistake to think that abortion rights are safe.

Yes, Chief Justice John Roberts joined his more liberal colleagues in striking down a Louisiana abortion restriction. The state had required abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, claiming that the rule increased women’s safety. In reality, it would have served to eliminate all but one abortion clinic in the entire state.

But Roberts’ deciding vote in June Medical did not reflect a newfound commitment to the right to choose. Instead, the chief justice could not escape the fact that the court had already seen a Texas statute just like Louisiana’s — and struck it down —four years ago. Roberts couldn’t find a way to differentiate the two, at least not with a straight face. His was a vote for the court’s vaunted legacy of legal consistency — stare decisis.


© Los Angeles Times

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