GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Alabama’s Republican governor on Wednesday signed into law two anti-abortion measures that are the most restrictive in the country.
The new laws will punish any doctor who performs an abortion with life in prison. The only exception is for cases in which the woman’s life is in serious danger.
Proponents aim to take the issue a step further, using the law to overturn Roe v. Wade, which effectively legalized abortion nationwide in 1973. But the U.S. Supreme Court is still far from taking up the issue.
“It’s not something that you just snap your fingers and they (Supreme Court justices) say, ‘Oh sure, we’ll reverse precedent,'” Grand Rapids attorney John Bursch, who has argued close to a dozen cases before the Supreme Court, explained.
“The U.S. Supreme Court tends to move at a snail’s pace when it comes to changing the law and certainly since Chief Justice (John) Roberts has been at the helm now,” Bursch continued. “So I think that there would have to be several other cases that they would have to decide first where they kind of chipped away at Roe.”
Bursch explained that the court follows a rule of law that is generally against reversing standing precedent. But there are exceptions if it can be proven that the foundation of the initial ruling was incorrect. For example, in this case, there is new science that contradicts what we initially thought was true about how fetuses develop.
If the case does make its way to the Supreme Court, this would be the second time. In the 1990s, the Supreme Court heard Planned Parenthood v. Casey and justices appointed by Republican presidents ended up voting in favor of upholding Roe V. Wade.
“I think it’s foolish to predict that justices will go one way or other,” Bursch said. “We’ve been down this road before and everybody pretty much got it wrong.”
If Roe v. Wade is overturned, the power would go back to the states to decide if abortions would be allowed, making it a state-by-state issue. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is pro-abortion rights and opposes any legislation restricting them.
“Rights that we’ve always assumed, that have been worked for and protected are now in jeopardy,” the governor said in Grand Rapids Wednesday. “It also means we’re going to treat half our population as second-class citizens. That’s something that’s bad for women, for families and for the future of our economy as well.”