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Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the landmark ruling that legalized abortion nationwide — a decision that would allow Missouri to enforce one of the nation’s most restrictive abortion laws.
Hawley, along with GOP Sens. Mike Lee and Ted Cruz, filed a brief with the court on Monday arguing the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, in which the justices said the U.S. Constitution protects the right to an abortion, should be discarded, with individual states left to set abortion policy.
The senators’ brief is likely to be just one of many seeking to sway the justices, who are set to rule next year in a major case in which the court’s conservative majority could severely weaken or overturn Roe. Hawley’s stance on abortion is already well known and he has previously promised to support only Supreme Court nominees if they agree Roe was wrongly decided.
But Hawley’s signature on the document comes as Missouri fights to implement a 2019 law that would ban abortion after the 8th week of pregnancy. The law, which has temporarily been blocked from going into effect, also includes triggers that ban abortion at 14, 18 and 20-weeks if the 8-week ban is overturned.
Attorney General Eric Schmitt earlier this summer asked the Supreme Court to review the law, which has suffered defeats in lower courts.
The Missouri law is more restrictive than the 15-week ban in Mississippi the court will rule on in 2022, raising the possibility Missouri’s law could still ultimately be found unconstitutional even if the justices uphold the Mississippi law. A sweeping decision that overturns Roe, as Hawley wants, would likely eliminate that scenario.
Much of the senators’ brief focuses on the “undue burden” standard set by the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision that said restrictions must not place an undue burden on women seeking abortions.
The senators wrote that the “status quo is untenable.” After nearly 30 years, the undue burden test has proved “so murky” and led to conflicting positions, they wrote.
“Roe and Casey should be overruled, and the question of abortion legislation should be returned to the states,” they wrote.
In a statement, Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri said Hawley “will do anything to pander to extremists.”
“Hawley wants the Supreme Court to overrule 50 years of precedent and allow states to ban abortions and deny essential health care primarily to people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and people with low incomes,” M’Evie Mead, the organization’s director, said.