Intersection of LGBT Rights and Women’s Rights

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Our history is replete with draconian laws that subject LGBT individuals to criminal prosecution; employment, marriage, adoption, and housing bans; deportation; and denial of health care.  So too, have women faced unjust restrictions over their reproductive autonomy.  In both cases, lawmakers cited unsubstantiated public health and scientific claims to justify these civil rights violations.

On March 2, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in its first abortion case in 20 years, Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole. The case arose from restrictive Texas laws that have as their effect to deny women access to safe, legal abortions.

In 1992, the Supreme Court decided Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which validated Roe v. Wade’s core principle that the most personal & intimate decision one can make — whether & when to bear a child — belongs to the individual. The Casey Court held that a law is invalid “if its purpose or effect is to place a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus attains viability.”

Recognizing that LGBT and women’s rights intersect, a coalition of 14 LGBT, racial justice, and health equity organizations filed a brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the restrictive laws. National Center for Lesbian Rights blog.

The brief asks the court to carefully scrutinize Texas regulations and to reject laws that are based upon pseudo-science and unsupported health-related justifications. Only then will all individuals receive the full protections of constitutional liberties.

You can read the coalition’s brief and follow the live tweets from tomorrow’s Supreme Court oral arguments at the SCOTUS blog.  Indiana’s own Attorney General, Greg Zoeller, has also filed a brief in support of Texas’ restrictions, citing an 1889 court case and state’s police powers as justification for the restrictions.

With the Supreme Court short one member, a 4-4 split would leave the state’s restrictions in place, until another case can make its way to the country’s highest court. Perhaps someone will challenge Indiana’s restrictive abortion laws, that effectively deny many women access to safe, legal abortions.

** INDIANA UPDATE: Indiana lawmakers are poised to enact HB 1337, which prevents abortions due to fetal disabilities or even potential fetal disabilities.  HB 1337 also requires women to arrange for burial or cremation of fetal remains from a miscarriage or abortion. It provides that doctor’s lose their license to practice and are exposed to wrongful death lawsuits if they perform an abortion for a woman who is seeking the procedure to avoid the forced birth of a child with fetal anomalies.  Hoosiers have every right to expect this law will face judicial challenges.

Photo Credit: Wiki Commons, United States Supreme Court

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