Advocates going to D.C. ahead of abortion case

Posted at 10:20 PM, Feb 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-29 23:26:51-05

This week, the Supreme Court will consider what's being called the biggest abortion case since Roe v. Wade. 

The case is Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt out of Texas. At issue is House Bill 2. For abortions, it requires doctors have admitting privileges at a hospital, meet surgical center standards and wait 24 hours before having one done. It also bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. On March 2, SCOTUS will consider if state laws like HB2 are constitutional. 

A woman's perspective 

Jackie Casteel is sharing her story, after having both a surgical and medical abortion years ago, at a rally at the Capitol. Casteel started at her local Planned Parenthood.

"They were there for me, they always did my well woman exams and provided me with birth control in some of the hardest times of my life," said Casteel. "I know that it was the right decision for me."

Her hope is for a ruling of unconstitutional because in her opinion, "Undue restrictions on being able to access this is not right. It's not right to deny us something that's been constitutionally given to us as a legal right." 

The fight for life 

Bill Francis, director of the Respect Life and Human Rights Office, supports HB2.

Francis said, "It's basic health care precautions just to make sure the procedure is safe and the health of the woman is considered. If you're in that business and your concern is that you're going to get shut down, I don't think that says much for your business."

Like many, he is hoping for "at least a 4-4 decision because that would uphold the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals out of New Orleans to leave the Texas law where it is and let the law stand." 

Local doctor weighs in 

Dr. Harry Jonas, an OB/GYN who opened his own practice in Independence in 1956, said, "The Congress these last several years has been so preoccupied with this issue politically that they have passed all kinds of bills that are restrictive to access to abortion and some of them are just ridiculous."

When it comes to safety Jonas added, "I've never known a patient that's died from a pregnancy termination done by a well-trained physician."

He supports banning very late-term abortions, but argues against the term "pro-life" in reference to anti-abortion, arguing, "We're the pro-life field. We save women's lives." 

Impact of an eight-justice SCOTUS 

This case is not the only one being considered by the Supreme Court in the coming weeks. The death of justice Antonin Scalia could lead to a split in key decisions.

UMKC law professor David Achtenberg said, "Having a 4-4 split on an important issue like this delays that resolution and that's not good."

He tells 41 Action News three things could happen: SCOTUS could affirm the lower court ruling which means no decision is issued; reschedule and argue the case again next term with a full court; or dismiss the case altogether.


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