The 2014 law, which was stayed by the Supreme Court in February, would require doctors at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.
Practitioners have said the law would force most of the state’s abortion clinics to close, and critics of the measure argue that it unduly burdens a “large fraction” of women seeking access to abortion.
In 2018, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit upheld the Louisiana law in a 2-to-1 vote.
In their amicus brief, the lawmakers said they “respectfully suggest that the Fifth Circuit’s struggle to define the appropriate ‘large fraction’ or determine what ‘burden’ on abortion access is ‘undue’ illustrates the unworkability of the ‘right to abortion’ found in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973) and the need for the Court to again take up the issue of whether Roe and [Planned Parenthood v.] Casey should be reconsidered and, if appropriate, overruled.”
The group of 207 lawmakers is made up of 168 House members and 39 senators. Only two of the signatories — Reps. Collin C. Peterson (Minn.) and Daniel Lipinski (Ill.) — are Democrats.
Last month, 197 members of Congress also wrote the Supreme Court in support of the Roe v Wade decision. “As a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution, and one that strikes at the heart of ordered liberty and individual autonomy, a woman’s right to decide to seek an abortion should be insulated from the rhetoric and interests of groups whose sole purpose is to undermine Roe and eliminate the fundamental rights enunciated in that case,” that group of members wrote in their amicus brief.
More than a dozen antiabortion rights groups hailed the amicus brief filed Thursday and the efforts of House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and others who spearheaded the move.
“Clearly, the 207 Members of Congress who joined this brief care deeply about the health and safety of the American people and the ability of legislators to enact commonsense law that protects women and children from the abuses perpetrated by the abortion industry,” Catherine Glenn Foster, president of Americans United for Life, said in a statement.
Abortion rights groups responded to the news with alarm, arguing that the brief shows that the battle over reproductive rights has entered a new and urgent phase.
“Unfortunately, this amicus brief proves that not only is the threat to those rights very real, but it is at a critical tipping point where the minority is ready to strip our freedom away against the majority’s wishes,” Emily’s List President Stephanie Schriock said in a statement. The group works to elect Democratic women who support abortion rights.
Samuel Lau, director of federal advocacy media for Planned Parenthood Votes, noted that public opinion polling shows a majority of Americans support abortion rights. A Washington Post-ABC News poll in July, for instance, found that 60 percent of Americans say abortion should be legal in most or all cases, the highest level in more than two decades.
Thursday’s amicus brief, Lau argued, “goes against the will of the people.”
“These antiabortion politicians are making it very clear — they want the Supreme Court to effectively ban abortion, precedent be damned,” he said. “To the members of Congress who signed on to this amicus brief: Brace yourselves for the consequences you will face at the ballot box in November.”
Robert Barnes contributed to this report.