Kennedy retirement brings future of Roe v. Wade into question

The debate of pro-life versus pro-choice is making national headlines once again after U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced he’s retiring.

Kennedy said on Wednesday he will retire at the end of July. His departure opens the door for President Donald Trump to nominate a justice who could affect the future of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion.

“The president has made it plain that abortion is a litmus test, and that he’ll be looking for someone who is pro-life,” said John Jackson, a professor with SIU Carbondale’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. “And I’m sure that that list of 25 names the Federalist Society gave him include only people who meet that litmus test.”

Jackson said the new-look Supreme Court will have two strategies.

“The first one is to continue to eat away at the availability of abortions,” explained Jackson. “Many states, of course, are already doing that. They’re making it more and more difficult for women to find a provider. Oftentimes, there’s only one in a whole state and that one will be in the biggest city of the state.”

That is the case in Kentucky, where the only licensed clinic that provides abortion services is in Louisville.

The Guttmacher Institute reports that from 1996 to 2014, the number of abortion clinics in the country dropped from 452 to 272.

“They will pass a law that says an abortion clinic’s got to have all of the facilities that a hospital would have,” Jackson said. “And very few of them can meet all of those technical requirements. So, a bunch of them in the rural areas will then close up.”

Jackson said the first strategy is inevitable. Meanwhile, the second strategy available to the Supreme Court is to overturn Roe v. Wade Outright, which Jackson said is very possible.

“They usually wait to get the perfect case when they’re going to overcome a major —overturn a major precedent,” said Jackson.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America released a statement in response to Kennedy’s retirement. It says, in part: “The idea of Trump having his choice to fill another vacancy is terrifying for not only abortion rights, but for our ability to live free from discrimination in this country.”

Meanwhile, Republican Kentucky State Sen. Danny Carroll said he hopes Roe v. Wade gets overturned.

“The unborn child cannot speak for itself, and it’s up to us to do that,” said  Carroll. “I believe the rights of a mother need to be protected, and I believe that with all my heart. But you have to look at it. That’s a separate person.  And you can’t deny one person’s right to live in protecting someone else’s rights.”

Jackson expects the new justice to be seated by Oct. 1, the start of the next Supreme Court term.

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