How the SCOTUS abortion ruling could affect upcoming Senate races

US Capitol dome Credit Dan Thornberg Shutterstock CNA The US capitol building. | Dan Thornberg/Shutterstock.

The US Supreme Court this week issued a ruling overturning a Louisiana law seeking to hold abortion clinics to the same standards as other surgical centers. In the wake of the decision, advocacy groups are highlighting the importance of preserving a pro-life majority in the US Senate. 

"Monday's decision makes clear we do not yet have a majority on the Supreme Court who will uphold laws that protect the lives of women and unborn children," said Marjorie Dannefelser of the Susan B. Anthony List, which advocates for pro-life politicians.

The 5-4 Supreme Court decision, handed down June 29, included a dissent from Justice Clarence Thomas, with Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, the court's newest appointees, joining the dissent along with Justice Samuel Alito.

Pro-abortion groups such as NARAL have capitalized in recent days on senators who supported Kavanaugh's 2018 nomination to the court, criticizing them for supporting a justice they see as a threat to 'reproductive rights'.

Nearly all sitting Republican senators voted to confirm Kavanaugh, including several facing potentially competitive races in the fall, the New York Times reports. The Republican Party currently holds a 53-47 Senate majority.

In NARAL's crosshairs are Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) - one of the few Republicans in the Senate openly supportive of Roe v Wade - as well as Senators Cory Gardner of Colorado, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, all Republicans up for reelection in 2020.

Louisiana's Unsafe Abortion Protection Act was passed in a bipartisan effort, authored by pro-life Democratic Rep. Katrina Jackson, now a state senator, and signed into law by then-governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican. It required abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of a clinic.

The state's current governor, John Bel Edwards (D), campaigned on a pro-life platform leading up to his election in 2015 and signed a bill to ban abortion in the state upon the detection of a fetal heartbeat, in advance of his 2019 re-election.

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas commented shortly after the ruling that abortion "violently ends the life of a child, and often severely harms women. Abortion becomes even more destructive when basic health and safety standards are ignored, and profit margins are prioritized over women's lives."

"Even as we seek to end the brutality of legalized abortion, we still believe that the women who seek it should not be further harmed and abused by a callous, profit-driven industry," he continued.

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