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Republicans try to spark US top court showdown over access to abortion

Republicans try to spark US top court showdown over access to abortion

AFP
Washington
Republican-led legislatures in state after state are passing bills restricting abortion access in a bid to eventually challenge the 1973 US Supreme Court ruling allowing a woman to terminate a pregnancy.
Opponents of abortion rights are hoping that the moves will prompt the nation’s highest court, which now has a conservative majority, to overturn its landmark decision in Roe vs Wade.
The latest state to pass abortion restrictions is Alabama, where the state senate approved legislation by a 25-6 vote on Tuesday that places a near-total ban on ending a pregnancy, even in cases of rape and incest. Under the bill, doctors who perform abortions could face between 10 and 99 years in prison. The legislation is now awaiting the signature of Kay Ivey, the state’s Republican governor.
Last week, the Republican governor of Georgia signed into law a ban on abortion from the moment a fetal heartbeat is detected. Georgia thus became the sixth US state to outlaw abortion after roughly six weeks of gestation.
Ohio, Mississippi, Kentucky, Iowa and North Dakota have enacted similar laws, while electoral powerhouses Florida and Texas are considering following suit.
All of the state bans have either been blocked by a judge or are headed for the courts, and some of their backers have said that’s exactly what they want–for the issue to go all the way to the nine-member Supreme Court. “It’s designed in every way to do just that,” said Terri Collins, the Republican state senator who sponsored the Alabama bill. The Republican bid to force a showdown over Roe vs Wade comes as President Donald Trump is ramping up for a 2020 re-election campaign with abortion as a hot-button issue.
The Supreme Court has previously reaffirmed a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion, but some anti-abortion activists believe the time may have come to turn the tables. Since taking office, Trump has appointed two conservative justices–Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh–and liberal members of the court are now outnumbered five to four.
Conservative-leaning Chief Justice John Roberts is seen as the potential swing vote if the constitutionality of abortion eventually comes before the court.

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