OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett may have tipped her hand in regards to vaccine mandates during oral arguments in the case that is the biggest challenge to Roe V Wade to make it to the court in decades.
She questioned whether Mississippi’s law banning abortions after 15 weeks was an “infringement on bodily autonomy” as she claimed such issues exist in “other contexts like vaccines.”
The comment came during oral arguments in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case before the court, Breitbart News reported.
Barrett was asking the Senior Director of the Center for Reproductive Rights, Julie Rikelman, about the implication Safe Haven laws could have on abortion law, specifically questioning whether the current law gives equal burden to both parenthood and pregnancy. Safe Haven laws are designed to prevent the abandonment of newborns and allow parents to leave newborns at any Safe Haven facility recognized by state law. The child then becomes a ward of the state. The exact parameters vary from state to state, though all 50 states have Safe Haven laws.
“Ms. Rickelman, I have a question about the Safe Haven laws. Petitioner points out that in all 50 states, you can terminate parental rights by relinquishing a child after abortion. And I think the shortest period might have been 48 hours if I’m remembering the data correctly. So it seems to me, seen in that light, both Roe and Casey emphasize the burdens of parenting and insofar as you and many of your amici focus on the ways in which the forced parenting, forced motherhood would hinder women’s access to the workplace and to equal opportunities, it’s also focused on the consequences of parenting and the obligations of motherhood that flow from pregnancy,” the justice said.
“Why don’t the Safe Haven laws take care of that problem? It seems to me that it focuses the burden much more narrowly. There is without question an infringement on bodily autonomy, which we have in other contexts like vaccines. However, it doesn’t seem to me to follow that pregnancy and then parenthood are all part of the same burden. And so it seems to me that the choice for focus would be between, say, the ability to get an abortion at 23 weeks or the state requiring the woman to go 15, 16 weeks more and then terminate parental rights at the conclusion. Why don’t you address the safe haven laws and why don’t they matter?” she said.
Rikelman did not acknowledge the comparison to the vaccine mandates but said that Safe Haven laws are not relevant because “pregnancy itself is unique” from parenting because it “imposes unique physical demands and risks on women…”
Days ago, a federal judge blocked Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for health care workers, issuing a nationwide injunction on the president’s order.
“Louisiana Western District U.S. Judge Terry Doughty’s decision follows an identical ruling Monday from Missouri U.S. District Judge Matthew Schelp, but Schelp’s decision only covered 10 states,” The Daily Advertiser reported.
“Doughty ruled on the lawsuit led by Republican Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and joined by 13 other states, but Doughty added a nationwide injunction in his ruling,” the outlet added.
“If the separation of powers meant anything to the Constitutional framers, it meant that the three necessary ingredients to deprive a person of liberty or property – the power to make rules, to enforce them, and to judge their violations – could never fall into the same hands,” Doughty wrote.
The judge continued: “If the executive branch is allowed to usurp the power of the legislative branch to make laws, two of the three powers conferred by our Constitution would be in the same hands. If human nature and history teach anything, it is that civil liberties face grave risks when governments proclaim indefinite states of emergency.”
“During a pandemic such as this one, it is even more important to safeguard the separation of powers set forth in our Constitution to avoid erosion of our liberties. Because the Plaintiff States have satisfied all four elements required for a preliminary injunction to issue, this Court has determined that a preliminary injunction should issue against the Government Defendants,” Doughty continued. “This matter will ultimately be decided by a higher court than this one. However, it is important to preserve the status quo in this case. The liberty interests of the unvaccinated require nothing less.”
“Therefore, the scope of this injunction will be nationwide, except for the states of Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, New Hampshire, Nebraska, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, since these ten states are already under a preliminary injunction order dated November 29, 2021, out of the Eastern District of Missouri,” Doughty said.
“This preliminary injunction shall remain in effect pending the final resolution of this case, or until further orders from this Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, or the United States Supreme Court,” Doughtery added.
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry praised the ruling and slammed Biden.