Most of Ohio's Republican congressional delegation joined 207 members of Congress in signing a legal brief filed today asking the United States Supreme Court to consider reversing a decades-old ruling legalizing abortion across the country.
The filing is the latest salvo in an effort by conservatives to challenge legal protections for abortion so that states can someday outlaw the procedures. A number of laws coming out of state legislatures — including some in Ohio outlawing abortions as early as six weeks after conception — have been aimed recently at challenging those protections under the 1973 Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade. The fate of those laws could hinge on coming rulings by SCOTUS.
Today's brief, filed in connection with a case before SCOTUS regarding Louisiana abortion restrictions, argues that the court's application of Roe prohibiting state laws outright banning abortion has not been consistently applied or clearly interpreted, nor has a subsequent standard for whether abortion restrictions are constitutional set in a 1992 decision on the case Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Thus, the filers argue, the court needs to consider the issue again.
"In sum, Roe’s jurisprudence has been characterized by Delphic confusion and protean change," the brief reads. "These incessant retrenchments show that Roe has been substantially undermined by subsequent authority, a principal factor the Court considers when deciding whether to overrule precedent."
Ohio Reps. Steve Chabot, Brad Wenstrup, Warren Davidson, Jim Jordan, Anthony Gonzalez, Bob Gibbs, Bob Latta, Troy Balderson, Bill Johnson and Mike Turner signed the amicus brief, as did Ohio's U.S. Sen. Rob Portman.
No Democratic members of the Ohio congressional delegation signed it, and signatures from Ohio Republican Reps. David Joyce and Steve Stivers aren't on the brief either.
Democrats — including members of Ohio's delegation — issued their own brief last month asking the court to strike down Louisiana's law.
That law requires doctors performing abortions in the state to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. Supporters of the legislation say it increases women's safety in the case of unforeseen complications with abortions. Opponents, however, say it is designed to lay down difficult to meet standards in order to close abortion clinics.
The high court struck down a similar law in Texas in 2016, though like-minded legislation continues to exist in Ohio and other states.
“In blatant defiance of the Constitution and this Court’s prior holdings, states like Louisiana burden women’s ability to exercise their fundamental rights through pretextual laws that purport to address problems that do not exist,” the brief from Democrats reads. “The result is a patchwork of access to safe and legal abortion.”