In June Medical Services v. Gee, Trump Fifth Circuit judges Don Willett, Kurt Engelhardt, James Ho, and Andrew Oldham voted to allow an extreme Louisiana anti-abortion law to take effect, even though it was nearly identical to a Texas law that the Supreme Court struck down in 2015. The Supreme Court reversed the Fifth Circuit decision.
In California v. Azar, Trump Ninth Circuit judges Eric Miller and Kenneth Lee cast key votes that keep in effect the Trump Administration’s domestic gag rule, which prohibits healthcare providers at federally-funded health clinics from discussing abortion with their patients.
In Adams & Boyle, P.C. v. Slatery, Trump Sixth Circuit judge Amul Thapar would have allowed the Republican Governor of Tennessee to ban abortions as part of the states’ purported efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. The majority agreed with the health clinic bringing the lawsuit that denying abortion services for the duration of the state’s shutdown, which could last many months, violated the constitutional rights of people who needed the procedure.
In In re: Abbott, Trump Fifth Circuit judge Kyle Duncan voted to allow a ban on abortions to take effect in Texas during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite a district court finding that it would cause “irreparable harm.” Under the prohibition, violations would result in 180 days of jail or a $1000 fine.
In In re: Rutledge, Trump Eighth Circuit judge Ralph Erickson voted to reverse a district court ruling that blocked a ban on abortions in Arkansas during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the prohibition, Arkansas had sent a notice to the sole abortion clinic in the state that any violation would result in a fine or imprisonment. As the district court judge noted, the ban would “inflict serious physical, emotional, and psychological injuries” on the individuals seeking abortion in the state.
In United States v. Flute, Trump Eighth Circuit judge David Stras cast the deciding vote that a woman could be charged with manslaughter for using drugs while she was pregnant, which contributed to the death of her newborn child.
In Doe v. Parson, Trump Eighth Circuit judges David Stras and Steven Grasz ruled that a Missouri law requiring physicians to give patients a pro-life booklet and perform an ultrasound before an abortion does not violate the First Amendment.
Although not in the majority, in Planned Parenthood v. Commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Health, Seventh Circuit judge Amy Coney Barrett voted to rehear a case that enjoined an Indiana abortion law that was found unconstitutional by a panel on the Seventh Circuit.
In EMW Women’s Surgical Center v. Friedlander, Trump Sixth Circuit judge John Bush would have upheld a Kentucky law that banned the D&E abortion procedure, which is used in 95% of second-trimester abortions. D&E is a safe, medically-proven procedure and the ban was merely another attempt to erode access to abortion in a state with a long history of hostility towards reproductive health services.
In Pre-Term Cleveland v. Attorney General, Trump Sixth Circuit judge John Bush voted to uphold a block on an Ohio pandemic-related abortion ban, however, he argued that it may well be constitutional. In his partial dissent, Bush wrote that he was “not convinced… that the Director’s Order places a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion.” The district court later ruled the blanket ban was in fact unconstitutional.
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