Supreme Court Review

Article Title

Why Restrict Abortion? Expanding the Frame on June Medical


As the Supreme Court prepares to roll back protections for the abortion right, this Article analyzes the logic of pro-life constitutionalism in June Medical Services L.L.C. v. Russo. I expand the frame on June Medical to examine the logic of women-protective health-justified restrictions on abortion. Do these laws protect women or the unborn—and how? By considering the history of the law at issue in June Medical and locating it in broader policy context, we can see how legislators who restricted abortion to protect women’s health equated women’s health with motherhood; they supported laws that push women into motherhood while declining to enact laws that provide for the health of pregnant women and the children they might bear. Expanding the frame on Louisiana’s pro-woman pro-life law shows us sex-role stereotyping in action, and demonstrates the intersectional injuries it can inflict. From this vantage point, we can see that judges who refuse to scrutinize pro-life law making—on the grounds that it would involve judges in politics—help legitimate the claims about protecting women’s health that supposedly justify the abortion restrictions, while revising the meaning of the Constitution’s liberty and equality guarantees Reading the doctrinal debate in June Medical in this context identifies open and hidden efforts to roll back protections for the abortion right—and suggests how the Supreme Court that President Donald Trump helped fashion values women, health, life, truth, and democracy.

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