WASHINGTON: The US Supreme Court on Monday (May 20) could act on appeals seeking to revive two Republican-enacted abortion restrictions from Indiana, even as debate rages over a new measure in Alabama that would ban the procedure almost entirely.
If the nine-justice court takes up either case, it would give the conservative majority an opportunity to chip away at the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that found women have a constitutional right to terminate pregnancies.
The court is due to announce new cases it is hearing and appeals it is rejecting on Monday morning. It could also delay action on certain cases.
One of the Indiana laws requires fetal remains to be buried or cremated and bans abortions performed because of fetal disability or the sex or race of the fetus.
The other law requires women to undergo an ultrasound examination at least 18 hours before they undergo an abortion.
Both Indiana measures were signed into law in 2016 by Vice President Mike Pence when he was Indiana's governor and were struck down by federal judges the following year. The state of Indiana is appealing to the Supreme Court.
The Alabama law was signed by the governor last week but is not set to go into effect for six months. It would outlaw almost all abortions, including in cases of pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. Exceptions would only be allowed to protect the mother's health. Doctors who perform abortions could face up to 99 years in prison.
The Alabama law was written with the assumption that it would face legal challenges and could ultimately end up at the high court.
Conservative activists have long railed against the Roe v. Wade decision. They hope that the conservative Supreme Court justices, who hold a 5-4 majority, will undermine, if not overturn it altogether.
Their chances of success were given a boost last year by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, the swing vote at the Supreme Court who had previously backed abortion rights in two key cases. Kennedy was replaced by President Donald Trump's conservative appointee Brett Kavanaugh, who has a thin record on abortion.
Legislation to restrict abortion rights has been introduced this year in 16 states. Four governors have signed bills banning abortion if an embryonic heartbeat can be detected.
Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts, who has voted against abortion rights in previous cases, are seen by legal experts as the key votes to watch.
The high court has two other abortion cases on its docket that it will also act on in the coming months - attempts by Alabama and Louisiana to revive other previously blocked abortion restrictions.