Why Restrict Abortion? Expanding the Frame on June Medical

2020 SUP . CT. REV. (Forthcoming 2021)

Yale Law School, Public Law Research Paper Forthcoming

89 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2021 Last revised: 13 Aug 2021

See all articles by Reva Siegel

Reva Siegel

Yale University - Law School

Date Written: March 7, 2021


As the Supreme Court prepares to roll back protections for the abortion right, this Article analyzes the logic of pro-life constitutionalism in June Medical Services L.L.C. v. Russo.

I expand the frame on the admitting privileges law in June Medical to examine the logic of woman-protective health-justified restrictions on abortion. Do these laws protect women or the unborn—and how? By considering the history of the admitting privileges law at issue in June Medical and locating it in broader policy context, we can see how Louisiana legislators who restricted abortion to protect women’s health equated women’s health with motherhood; they supported laws that pushed women into motherhood while declining to enact laws that provided for the health of pregnant women and the children they might bear. Expanding the frame on Louisiana’s pro-woman pro-life law shows us sex-role stereotyping in action, and demonstrates the intersectional injuries it can inflict.

From this vantage point, we can see that judges who refuse to scrutinize pro-life law making—on the grounds that it would involve judges in politics—help legitimate the claims about protecting women’s health that supposedly justify the abortion restrictions, while revising the meaning of the Constitution’s liberty and equality guarantees. Reading the doctrinal debate in June Medical in this context identifies open and hidden efforts to roll back protections for the abortion right—and suggests how the Supreme Court that President Donald Trump helped fashion values women, health, life, truth, and democracy.

Keywords: abortion, health, pro-life, TRAP law, liberty, equality, reproductive justice, maternal mortality, Casey, Whole Woman's Health, June Medical, Dobbs, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Amy Coney Barrett

JEL Classification: comma separated]

Suggested Citation

Siegel, Reva B., Why Restrict Abortion? Expanding the Frame on June Medical (March 7, 2021). 2020 SUP . CT. REV. (Forthcoming 2021), Yale Law School, Public Law Research Paper Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3799645

Reva B. Siegel (Contact Author)

Yale University - Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States
203-432-6791 (Phone)

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