Sonia Sotomayor on Abortion



Don't require admitting privileges for abortionists

The Supreme Court blocked Louisiana from enforcing a law that women's groups said would leave only a single doctor legally allowed to perform abortions in the state. By a 5-4 vote, the court said the restrictions must remain on hold while challengers appeal a lower court decision in favor of the law.

The vote signaled that a majority of the justices have doubts about the constitutionality of the LA law, which requires any doctor offering abortion services to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. Plaintiffs argued that it was identical to a Texas law the Supreme Court struck down in 2016, in which the court said Texas imposed an obstacle on women seeking access to abortion services without providing them any medical benefits. It was the most important abortion ruling in 25 years and blocked similar restrictions in AL, MS, OK, TN, and WI.

Plaintiffs said Louisiana's law would leave only one doctor at a single clinic in New Orleans to perform the procedure

Source: NBC News on 2019 SCOTUS case: "June Medical vs. Louisiana" , Feb 7, 2019

Government may spend public funds on its abortion position

Sotomayor ruled against an abortion rights group in its challenge to the so-called "Mexico City Policy," which states that nations that receive U.S. funds may neither perform nor promote abortions. The abortion rights advocates alleged that the policy violated their First Amendment, due process, and equal protection rights. Sotomayor upheld a lower court ruling dismissing the case, saying that the group's First Amendment rights had not been violated and that it had not been denied due process. On the equal protection claim, Sotomayor wrote, "The Supreme Court has made clear that the government is free to favor the anti-abortion position over the pro-choice position, and can do so with public funds." Sotomayor did not address the underlying abortion issue. (Center for Reproductive Law and Policy vs. Bush, 2002)
Source: CNN report on upcoming 2009 SCOTUS Sotomayor hearings , Aug 1, 2009

Rejected abortion rights challenge to Mexico City Policy

Sotomayor wrote the opinion in Center for Reproductive Law and Policy v. Bush, 2002, a challenge to the "Mexico City Policy," which prohibited foreign organizations receiving US funds from performing or supporting abortions. An abortion rights group claimed that the policy violated its First Amendment, due process, and equal protection rights. Relying on the Second Circuit's earlier decision in Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. v. Agency for International Development, which dealt with a virtually identical claim, Sotomayor's opinion rejected the group's First Amendment claim on the merits. Turning to the plaintiffs' due process claim, Sotomayor held that they lacked standing because they alleged only a harm to foreign organizations, rather than themselves. On their equal protection claim, she ultimately held that the claim failed under rational basis review because the government "is free to favor the anti-abortion position over the pro-choice position" with public funds.
Source: ScotusBlog.com, "Civil Litigation" , Jul 25, 2009

Precedents must be given deference in any situation

Q: When there are multiple precedents and a question arises, are all the previous decisions discarded, or should the court reexamine all the cases on point?

A: The health and welfare of a woman must be a compelling consideration. It has been a part of the court?s jurisprudence and a part of its precedents. Those precedents must be given deference in any situation that arises before the court.

Source: 2009 SCOTUS Confirmation Hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee , Jul 14, 2009

Other Justices on Abortion: Sonia Sotomayor on other issues:
Samuel Alito(since 2006)
Amy Coney Barrett(since 2020)
Stephen Breyer(since 1994)
Neil Gorsuch(since 2017)
Ketanji Brown Jackson(nominated 2022)
Elena Kagan(since 2010)
Brett Kavanaugh(since 2018)
John Roberts(since 2005)
Sonia Sotomayor(since 2009)
Clarence Thomas(since 1991)

Former Justices:
Merrick Garland(nominated 2016)
Ruth Bader Ginsburg(1993-2020)
Anthony Kennedy(1988-2018)
Antonin Scalia(1986-2016)
John Paul Stevens(1975-2010)
David Souter(1990-2009)
Sandra Day O'Connor(1981-2006)
William Rehnquist(1975-2005)

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Page last updated: Mar 21, 2022