On life, high courts leaning left and right

On life, high courts leaning left and right

On life, high courts leaning left and right

In Georgia, the state supreme court appears likely to uphold an abortion ban.

Elizabeth Edmonds of the Georgia Life Alliance explains that at issue is the state's Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act (HB 481), which was signed into law in 2019. It establishes a restriction on abortion once a baby's heartbeat has been detected, and it acknowledges the personhood of the unborn child from the moment of conception.

Though there is no way to know the outcome for sure, she does not think it too soon to say that the court will likely uphold the abortion ban. When the United States Supreme Court vacated the Roe vs. Wade decision and determined that it was never constitutional, "the argument in the case against the LIFE Act just does not hold any water," Edmonds reasons.

Abortion advocates have argued the LIFE Act is unconstitutional because the 1973 Roe vs. Wade ruling was still intact at the time of the bill signing.

Edmonds, Elizabeth (Georgia Life Alliance) Edmonds

"States do that all the time," the pro-lifer notes. "They will pass laws intended to be a challenge or ask a new and unique question of law or interpretation so an appellate court can finally answer those types of questions, which is exactly what the Mississippi case did that ultimately overturned Roe vs. Wade, and what the intention of the LIFE Act also was."

The "new and unique" question the measure posed has to do with personhood for the unborn child.

"I think their argument that this was always an unconstitutional law or something like that is just invalid," Edmonds submits. "The question our heartbeat law would have asked of the court is one that has never been determined to be constitutional or not."

Several of the justices question the arguments that lawyer Julia Stone made on behalf of SisterSong and other pro-abortion groups that are challenging the law, and the court reportedly appears likely to uphold the abortion ban.

The Kansas Supreme Court, however, appears to be leaning the other way.

The court recently heard arguments in appeals of two laws. The first measure had to do with a ban on dismemberment abortions; the other involved health and safety standards for abortion facilities. Legal challenges have blocked both laws from being enforced.

Kansas' highest court signaled Monday that it still considers access to abortion a "fundamental" right under the state constitution, as an attorney for the state argued that a statewide vote last year affirming abortion rights "doesn’t matter."

Danielle Underwood of Kansans for Life does not expect a positive ruling from the Kansas Supreme Court.

"Ultimately, we realize that we need to reform the way justices are appointed to the Kansas Supreme Court," she tells AFN.

Justices are appointed by the governor with the assistance of a commission with a majority of members selected by the state Bar Association. Kansas is the only state using this selection method.

"In order to escape this cycle of extreme rulings, we're going to have to change that process," says Underwood.

In the meantime, Kansans for Life is not giving up.

Underwood, Danielle (Kansans for Life) Underwood

"As a pro-life movement, we realize that while we've seen successes and we've seen setbacks over the years, we have never, ever given up," Underwood notes. "That's how we're going to continue to pursue all kinds of protections for women and babies and families."

For example, Kansans for Life is part of an effort making sure that pro-life pregnancy centers get ample resources. They get different streams of funding to help them so that The Sunflower State become a destination for life-saving care.

"We are here 'til the very end, and we will ultimately be victorious because we are on the right side of history," Underwood declares.