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Ohio Republicans Sign Letter Urging Supreme Court to Reconsider 'Roe v. Wade' Abortion Decision

a photo of Senator Rob Portman at a Right to Life rally
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) spoke at an Ohio Right to Life rally at the Statehouse in January 2016.

Ohio’s Republican U.S. Senator and most of its Republican Congressional delegation have signed onto a court document that could lead to the overturning of a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman has long opposed abortion. He talked about it on the Senate floor in 2015.

"I'm proud of my record with regard to supporting the sanctity of life. I'm proud of my 100% pro-life voting record."

Portman is among 39 Republican Senators to sign a brief supporting Louisiana’s law requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. That law will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in March.

The amicus brief was filed Thursday by 207 members of Congress in "June Medical Services v. Gee."

Sen. Rob Portman joined the brief, along with Reps. Steve Chabot, Warren Davidson, Anthony Gonzalez, Bill Johnson, Jim Jordan, Bob Gibbs, Bob Latta, Troy Balderson, Mike Turner and Brad Wenstrup – all Republicans.

Louisiana abortion clinics argue that the law is both medically unnecessary and harmful to patients.

In December, almost 200 members of Congress, led by Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, submitted their own brief opposing the Louisiana law.

"In blatant defiance of the Constitution and this Court's prior holdings, states like Louisiana burden women’s ability to exercise their fundamental rights through pretextual laws that purport to address problems that do not exist," the Democratic letter reads. "The result is a patchwork of access to safe and legal abortion."

In their brief, the Republican members side with the state of Louisiana in defending the abortion law, claiming that the clinics lack standing to challenge the restrictions.

Their letter also urges the Supreme Court to throw out its current standard to decide whether abortion restrictions are constitutional, which was established in the 1992 case "Planned Parenthood v. Casey."

"Amici respectfully suggest that the court’s struggle—similar to dozens of other courts’ herculean struggles in this area—illustrates the unworkability of the 'right to abortion' found in Roe and the need for the Court to take up the issue of whether Roe and Casey should be reconsidered and, if appropriate, overruled," the Republican brief reads.

Besides Democrats, the only Ohio Congressional delegates who didn't sign the letter were Republican Reps. David Joyce and Steve Stivers. Reps. Marcia Fudge and Tim Ryan both joined the Democratic brief in December.

Louisiana's law is similar to one in Texas that the Supreme Court struck down in 2016. But under President Trump, the U.S. Supreme Court has since added two conservative justices who appear willing to review or throw out "Roe v. Wade."

Ohio has a law of its own, requiring abortion providers to maintain admitting privileges at a local hospital, that could be immediately affected by the Supreme Court’s decision. Other state abortion restrictions, including the six-week abortion ban passed last year but blocked by federal courts, may hinge on the fate of "Roe v. Wade."

Oral arguments in the case are set for March 4.

A Quinnipiac poll last summer showed 61 percent of Ohio voters support the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.