Anti-Abortionists Can’t Work to Reinstate Law, Justices Rule
The Supreme Court ruled today that anti-abortion activists had no right to try to reinstate an Illinois law that placed severe restrictions on doctors who perform abortions.
The unanimous decision leaves intact a ruling by the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The law required doctors to use the same care in performing an abortion of a viable or possibly viable fetus that would be used in delivery of a live infant. Violation of the law was a felony.
The law also made it a misdemeanor for doctors to fail to tell patients when they administer abortifacients, which cause fetal death. Some forms of birth control--such as the IUD--are considered abortifacients.
The court, in an opinion written by Justice Harry A. Blackmun, said the anti-abortion doctors who brought the appeal had no legal standing to do so and that only the State of Illinois, which is charged with enforcing its laws, can bring such an action.
Justices Sandra Day O’Connor, William H. Rehnquist and Byron R. White, who have all voted against abortion, voted with the majority.
Janet Benshoof, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney who worked on the case, said, “I don’t think (the court’s action) has any significance for the abortion issue.”
She added, however, the decision apparently “means ‘right-to-life’ groups cannot go off on their own if states are not willing to stand behind their statutes.”