Illinois group asks U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider abortion protections


About 50 years after Roe v. Wade decided, Illinois group asks court to revisit

Published by Capitol News Illinois on Jan. 13, 2020

By Rebecca Anzel
Statehouse Reporter


SPRINGFIELD — An Illinois anti-abortion advocacy group argues the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing the procedure is outdated and “out of step with modern science.”

The Thomas More Society, a Chicago-based law firm, filed a brief last week on behalf of Illinois Right to Life in the highest court’s first abortion-related case in years.

It challenges whether a Louisiana law mandating doctors who perform the procedure have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals is “unduly burdensome.” The Society’s filing is technically in support of the Louisiana law, but its focus is on the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 ruling.

Roe v. Wade should be revisited, according to the brief, because its three major tenets are no longer applicable: pregnant women and mothers do not face “substantial social burdens” as they once did; the scientific community agrees life begins at conception; and 38 states now have some version of a fetal homicide law.

Together, those assertions are enough for the highest court to reassess whether fetuses qualify as “persons” under the law and can be granted the protection of the 14th Amendment, Thomas Olp, the Society’s vice president and senior counsel, said.

That amendment ensures government does not “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” or “the equal protection of the laws.”

“There have been significant changes, and the court should take a new look at Roe in terms of those changes,” he said. “Just as it’s important that slaves were human beings and therefore persons protectable by law, now we need to … agree preborn human beings are entitled to protection.”

Essentially, the Thomas More Society’s and Illinois Right to Life’s reasoning is fetuses should be wholly protected by all statutes, not just a few — most notably, fetal homicide laws.

“The position expressed here ignores the actual question facing the Court in the Louisiana case — whether forcing doctors who provide a full range of reproductive health care for their patients to have admitting privileges in a local hospital — [and] elevates the beliefs of politicians and ideologues above concern for women’s health,” Ameri Klafeta, director of the American Civil Liberty Union’s Women’s and Reproductive Rights Project, said. “We reject that view.”

She added the argument detailed in the group’s brief mirrors that heard in the Illinois General Assembly when legislators were debating the Reproductive Health Act. Signed by Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker in June, it enshrined women’s access to reproductive health care as a fundamental right.

Louisiana’s law is similar to one in Texas that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against about five years ago. The justices decided the Lone Star State’s regulation was a “substantial burden” on women’s right to abortion.

Outlets published this piece

  • The Southern Illinoisan
  • Danville Commercial News
  • Harrisburg Register
  • Kewanee Star Courier
  • Taylorville Breeze-Courier
  • Carrollton Greene Prairie Press
  • Mt. Vernon Sentinel
  • Centralia Sentinel