Americans United for Life is pleased to share our 2022 Q4 Life Litigation Report. The only comprehensive listing of pro-life litigation publicly available, this Report tracks major Life cases across the country in federal and state courts. The goal of the Report is to provide a useful resource in addition to AUL’s expertise on legal and policy issues affecting Life. Here are some notable cases included in the Report:
Since the Constitution is no longer held to protect abortion following Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, federal courts have lifted injunctions against abortion laws and abortionists have voluntarily dismissed their lawsuits. In November, a district court granted Louisiana’s emergency Rule 60(b) motion to vacate the permanent injunction against its admitting privileges law, which was at issue in June Medical Services LLC v. Russo. Texas is litigating a similar Rule 60(b) motion to reinstate its admitting privileges law, which was at the center of Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.
The Seventh Circuit reversed a preliminary injunction against Indiana’s fetal remains law and remanded the case with instructions to dismiss the suit with prejudice in Doe v. Rokita. As the court held, “we reverse outright—because there is no violation [of the beliefs of a woman who has obtained an abortion]. . . . The cremate-or-bury directive applies only to hospitals and clinics.” Notably, the Seventh Circuit remarked on the “abortion distortion,” that abortion jurisprudence often mangles legal doctrines in order to protect abortion. The court highlighted that the case was not certified as a class action, and the district court could have provided full relief to the plaintiffs by enjoining the application of the statute to them, but instead the district court improperly barred the state officials from applying the laws to anyone.
Threats From the Satanic Temple
There are new threats to life-saving abortion laws. Among other states facing religious challenges to abortion abolition laws, Florida is defending against six lawsuits that allege the state’s fifteen-week gestational limit infringes on the free exercise of religion. The Satanic Temple has alleged novel arguments against Idaho and Indiana’s life-saving abortion laws, contending the laws infringe upon the Takings Clause, Involuntary Servitude Clause, and Equal Protection Clause in The Satanic Temple v. Little and The Satanic Temple v. Holcomb.
Assisted Suicide Case
In Shavelson v. Bonta, suicide proponents had argued that federal disability rights legislation required California to permit euthanasia of persons with disabilities who could not self-administer lethal drugs. Last week, the district court granted motions to dismiss the third amended complaint on standing grounds, but recognized that “even if [the plaintiffs pled proper standing], the Court would dismiss the lawsuit on the merits.” Foreclosing further suicide activism, the court wrote, “[t]he dismissal for lack of jurisdiction is therefore without leave to amend—it is clear by now that further amendment would be futile.”
Pro-life States Defending Protections and Going On Offense
State supreme courts heard abortion oral arguments over whether the state constitution protects abortion in Idaho, Kentucky, North Dakota, and South Carolina. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard oral arguments over a state “Hyde Amendment” that restricts the public funding of abortion in Allegheny Reproductive Health Center v. Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.
Now that the Supreme Court has overruled Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, the pro-life movement is going on offense. A nurse practitioner challenged Veterans Affairs’ interim final rule that unlawfully permits abortions at Veterans Affairs clinics in Carter v. McDonough. Pro-life doctors filed a lawsuit in Mississippi seeking a declaratory judgment that the state’s abortion abolition law is legal under the state constitution in American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists v. Mississippi State Board of Medical Licensure. Pro-life doctors also have challenged the FDA’s approval and deregulation of chemical abortion drugs in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration.