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The Next Big SCOTUS Abortion Battle Might Be In The Courts Right Now

Cases in Iowa, Arkansas and Texas are moving toward the top of the watch list.
Posted at 10:17 PM, Jul 10, 2018

President Trump made one huge promise during his campaign: He was going to appoint pro-life judges and made it clear he wants them to overturn Roe v. Wade. 

Now that Trump's in a position to make good on that pledge, he's tapped Judge Brett Kavanaugh to be his second nomination to the Supreme Court.

Kavanaugh is expected to be pressed during his confirmation hearings on his feelings about Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. But don't expect him to say much about his personal views on reproductive rights or any potential cases that could come before the court.

But there are a bunch of cases percolating in the federal court system that do touch on those issues — and legal experts and advocates are waiting with bated breath to see how far they'll go.

"There are a number of cases moving through the courts right now that could reach the Supreme Court on issues like access to abortion, access to birth control and even preventive care and birth control at Planned Parenthood," Danielle Wells, the assistant director of state advocacy media at Planned Parenthood, told Newsy. 

Cases like Iowa's six-week abortion ban that's been temporarily blocked by a judge and will likely be appealed by the state; or an Arkansas law that bans abortion pills, which the Supreme Court sent back to the lower courts earlier this year. The Family Research Council, an anti-abortion rights group, is watching just about all of the abortion cases being litigated, including some that are still in the works. 

"There are cases that the court has not taken up. There are other types of regulation of the practice of abortion at the state level that are occurring besides the six-week bans," Travis Weber, the vice president of the Family Research Council, said. 

The cases aren't about Roe specifically, but the court could turn any of them into a broader case about abortion. But FRC thinks if anything, it'd be a slower move to give the right to regulate abortion back to the states. 

"And given the rulings we have on the books now, you're going to have to see some sort of slow drawback in those rulings. It can overturn them, it's done so in the past," Weber said.  

Pro-choice groups, on the other hand, are already anticipating a full rollback of Roe. They're looking beyond that to what the impact of such a decision would be.

"We have states like Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota that have trigger laws, so those would automatically ban abortion if Roe's overturned," Wells said.