Possible legal challenges to sweeping new abortion law limited in scope, pro-life legal expert says
Legal challenges to the newly minted Reproductive Health Act (RHA) that lifts all restrictions on abortion in Illinois will come in response to narrow applications of the law, Clarke Forsythe, senior counsel at Americans United for Life, told Prairie State Wire.
“Nothing about the law, at least on the face of it, violates the Illinois or U.S. Constitution,” he said.
The way the law is implemented and enforced, however, could invite a challenge – for example, holding a doctor or other health care provider who is opposed to abortion in violation of the law if they refuse to participate in an abortion or refuse to refer a patient to an abortion provider.
“That would violate the state’s Right of Conscience Act,” Forsyth said.
The RHA legislation, SB 25, was sold in part by its supporters as a preemptive action in anticipation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion a fundamental right. But Forsyth said the High Court’s taking on a case that goes to the heart of Roe is likely years down the road.
In the meantime, the court will hear cases that present an opportunity to impose incremental limits.The court in late May, for instance, upheld an Indiana law requiring the aborted remains of the unborn be buried or cremated, but it declined to review a provision of the law that would ban abortions based on sex, race or disability.
The court is about to rule on three additional abortion cases, and some 35 others are in the lower courts.
The RHA establishes “the fundamental right” to abortion, repealing provisions in the Illinois Abortion Law of 1975 that includes spousal consent, waiting periods and criminal penalties for doctors.
The real aim of the law, Forsyth said, was to give Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, “a hub in the Midwest.”
“It’s not health care and it doesn’t protect women,” Forsyth said. “It’s a tragedy.”