WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court heard oral arguments this morning in Cameron v. EMW Women’s Surgical Center, a case that will decide whether Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron can re-enter a lawsuit at the eleventh hour in order to attempt to revive an abortion ban that two courts have held is unconstitutional. With the Supreme Court set to hear a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade in December and Texas politicians doing everything in their power to force people to continue pregnancies against their will, the right to have an abortion is more at risk today than it has been in generations.
Today’s arguments did not address the constitutionality of the abortion ban and instead focused on whether the appeals court was correct in denying the attorney general’s belated motion to intervene. However, the Supreme Court’s decision could have significant repercussions for access to abortion for not only people in Kentucky but in the surrounding states as well. If the Supreme Court allows the attorney general to intervene it will open the door to his efforts to put the ban back into place, a ban that two courts have already held is unconstitutional and would severely restrict access to abortion care.
“Enough is enough. Two courts already held that this law violates the rights of Kentuckians. The Supreme Court ought to put an end to the attorney general's attempts to force people to continue their pregnancies against their will. Politicians across the country are using every tool in the shed to push abortion further and further out of reach, and as the situation in Texas vividly demonstrates, they won’t stop trying until they have succeeded in taking the decision about whether to continue a pregnancy away completely,” said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project and counsel arguing on behalf of EMW Women’s Surgical Center before the Supreme Court. “With the precedent established by Roe up for grabs in the Supreme Court this year, the right to get an abortion for people across the country is in real jeopardy. We won’t stop fighting until all of us can access the essential reproductive health care we need, regardless of where we live or how much we make.”
“We have been proud to deliver high-quality, compassionate care to our patients for more than four decades, and will do everything in our power to continue doing so,” said Dr. Ernest Marshall, owner of EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville, Kentucky. “We see patients from all walks of life every day who are making the best decision for themselves and their families, and we’re honored to be part of that journey with them. They come to us because they know the medical care they receive will be guided by their best interests, not a stranger’s politics. Unfortunately, the law our attorney general is trying to enforce would create a medically unnecessary ban on abortion for many and threaten abortion providers like me with a felony for helping the people we swore an oath to serve. Doctors shouldn’t have to choose between providing the safest, most appropriate care for their patients and going to jail. We hope the Supreme Court will use its power for good and protect our patients from the harm this abortion ban would cause.”
The underlying case involves a challenge to a law banning dilation and evacuation (D&E), the standard procedure for abortions after 15 weeks. When the case was filed, the plaintiffs sued the attorney general as one of the defendants. Instead of defending the law, the attorney general sought and obtained his dismissal from the suit, and agreed that the Office of the Attorney General would be bound by the final judgment. After sitting on the sidelines while two federal courts ruled that the law was unconstitutional, the attorney general belatedly attempted to re-enter the case. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that attempt was untimely and denied the attorney general’s motion to intervene. The question before the Supreme Court today is whether the court of appeals correctly denied that motion.
The case page for Cameron v. EMW Women’s Surgical Center can be found here: https://www.aclu.org/cases/cameron-v-emw-womens-surgical-center
The Supreme Court docket for the case can be found here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/docket/docketfiles/html/public/20-601.html