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What Tuesday’s Supreme Court case could mean for Roe v. Wade

Cameron v. EMV Women’s Surgical Center will scrutinize the process that struck down a Kentucky abortion law.
Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 2:36 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The Supreme Court will decide whether to revive a legal fight over a Kentucky abortion law after hearing arguments Tuesday. The legal dispute could affect how Roe v. Wade is argued in the future.

It’s a highly technical case that doesn’t directly take up the issue of abortion.

But legal experts see this case as a barometer of what the court might do in critical cases to come.

Arguing before the Supreme Court, Kentucky’s Deputy Attorney General Matthew Kuhn argued his office should be able to pick up the legal defense of a state abortion law.

The Beshear administration dropped the case after a second court struck down H.B. 454 – which added new restrictions on the most common form of second trimester abortion.

“I’m optimistic that we will get a favorable ruling, which will allow us to go back to the sixth circuit court of appeals and defend House Bill 454,” said Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R-Ky.)

Lawyers for the ACLU said Attorney General Daniel Cameron should be bound by the decision to withdraw from the case made by his predecessor, the now Gov. Andy Beshear.

This fight doesn’t directly threaten the rights granted by the court’s landmark decision in Roe v. Wade… but Alexa Colbi-Molinas argues it cannot be separated from the larger issue.

“If the attorney general is able to achieve his endgame, it will be devastating not only to the people in Kentucky, but in the surrounding states, all of whom rely on EMW and its doctors for second trimester abortion care,” said ACLU Attorney Alexa Kolbi-Molinas.

Should the justices split neatly along their 6-3 conservative, liberal divide – legal experts said that would be a clear sign that the Court’s majority will seek out more cases to chip away at the right to abortion.

“I think it will be the death of Roe v. Wade by a thousand cuts,” said Georgetown University Law Professor Lawrence Gostin.

A 2020 Supreme Court decision in a separate case will potentially offer Cameron one more legal avenue to argue for reinstating H.B. 454 even if he loses here.

The court also has a pair of high-profile abortion cases teed up in the coming months, where the justices will consider whether new restrictions in Texas and Mississippi are constitutional.

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