A liberal replacement for Scalia would guarantee almost unlimited abortion rights, probably far into the future.
Many Texas abortion clinics could close, an outcome that may have happened anyway with Scalia on the court.
The court next month will hear the most significant abortion case since 1992, when the justices ruled states could legally impose restrictions on abortion that did not put an “undue burden” on access to the procedure. This term’s abortion case, which centers on restrictions Texas placed on providers and clinics, will again test how far states can go to limit abortion.
The court is expected to be divided along familiar partisan lines, with Justice Anthony Kennedy serving as a possible swing vote. A 4-4 decision in the case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, would leave in place a lower court ruling that upheld the restrictions on clinics.
The debate over whether or not abortion should be a legal option continues to divide Americans long after the US Supreme Court’s 7-2 decision on Roe v. Wade declared the procedure a “fundamental right” on Jan. 22, 1973.
Proponents, identifying themselves as pro-choice, contend that choosing abortion is a right that should not be limited by governmental or religious authority, and which outweighs any right claimed for an embryo or fetus. They say that pregnant women will resort to unsafe illegal abortions if there is no legal option.
Opponents, identifying themselves as pro-life, contend that personhood begins at conception, and therefore abortion is the immoral killing of an innocent human being. They say abortion inflicts suffering on the unborn child, and that it is unfair to allow abortion when couples who cannot biologically conceive are waiting to adopt.
Variations exist in arguments on both sides of the debate. Some pro-choice proponents believe abortion should only be used as a last resort, while others advocate unrestricted access to abortion services under any circumstance. Pro-life positions range from opposing abortion under any circumstance to accepting it for situations of rape, incest, or when a woman’s life is at risk.