Post-Roe, more focus on state supreme courts

By Dave Andrusko

Pro-lifers have long recognized the importance of the Supreme Court. After all the justices gave us Roe v. Wade—essentially legalizing abortion on demand—but also Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization—which overturned Roe. Our attention has also always been on the state’s supreme courts.

Some have been disasters for the cause of unborn children. Most recently the Kansas Supreme Court, on a 6-1 vote, shot down the Kansas Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act and in the process found in various penumbras and emanations in the state Constitution’s Bill of Rights a “right” to abortion.

Although you’d never know it from the majority opinion, the law, S.B. 95, prohibits abortions in which a fully-formed unborn child is torn apart with sharp metal tools, bit by bit, while still alive, inside her mother.

The Associated Press’s Andrew Demillo wrote a thoughtful story that ran in the Washington Post today headlined “Abortion ruling intensified fight over state supreme courts” [].

Demillo  cites Illinois as a state “surrounded by states with abortion bans that took effect after Roe v. Wade fell,” that “is one of the few places where the procedure remains legal in the Midwest.”

Abortion-rights supporters are worried that might not last. Their concern is shared in at least a half-dozen states, and this year it’s not just about state legislatures. In Illinois, Democrats hold a supermajority, and the governor, a Democrat, is expected to win reelection.

Instead, Republicans could be on the verge of winning control of the Illinois Supreme Court, where Democrats currently hold a 4-3 majority. Two seats are up for election in November, prompting groups that have normally set their sights on other offices to concentrate attention and money on the judicial campaigns.

Sarah Standiford, national campaigns director for Planned Parenthood Action Fund, told Demillo, “It’s increasingly clear that the way access is playing out is at the state level, which puts the role of the court in stark relief.” 

Demillo also sites Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Kansas as states with competitive contests for seats on the state’s highest court that bear watching.