Recent Court Rulings Fail To Preserve Women's Constitutional Rights, New York Times Editorial States

August 1, 2012 — "At a time when abortion rights and women's access to affordable contraception are threatened by political attacks, judges in three newly decided federal cases failed to preserve constitutional protections for women," a New York Times editorial states.

U.S. District Judge James Teilborg on Monday upheld an Arizona law (HB 2036) that bans abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and marks "the most aggressive of the previability abortion bans passed recently by a handful of states," according to the Times. Teilborg's ruling "defies binding Supreme Court precedent that prevents states from banning abortions before a fetus can survive outside the womb" by "erroneously characteriz[ing] Arizona's outright ban as a permissible 'regulation' that limits only 'some' previability abortions," the editorial states.

Meanwhile, a federal judge in Colorado on Friday granted a temporary injunction sought by a for-profit company that sued over the federal contraceptive coverage rules. "There is no constitutional precedent for individuals, much less corporations, allowing them to violate generally applicable laws because they may have a religious objection," the editorial states, adding that "the company's claim that its owners or officers have a First Amendment right to impose their personal religious beliefs on the corporation's employees is groundless."

The editorial also criticizes a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit to uphold "a 2005 South Dakota law requiring doctors to misinform women seeking an abortion that they face an increased risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts if they go ahead." The Times notes that the ruling "ignores the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence" (New York Times, 7/31).