What Do Trump’s Pro-Life Justices Mean for Landmark Abortion Decision?

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On Sunday, President-elect Donald Trump told CBS’s “60 Minutes” host Leslie Stahl that he would appoint Supreme Court justices with pro-life views. Abortion rights advocates now wonder what that may mean to a landmark abortion decision called Roe v. Wade.

If states challenge the ruling, they might easily overturn it, experts think. When Stahl asked Trump what women would do under that scenario, he said they would have to “go to another state” to abort their children.

Trump also said that states will be free to regulate abortion rights within their borders. However, some  conservative states might opt for a ban so Stahl asked Trump whether it was ok for women to travel to other states.

 “Well, we’ll see what happens. It’s got a long way to go,”

the president-elect replied.

However, experts think it is not a matter of “whether” Roe v. Wade will disappear. It is a matter of “when.” Roe v. Wade has been the basis of abortion rights for 43 years. In as many years, U.S. clinics performed 54 million abortions. It is as if the entire population of California and half of Texas’ population disappeared in less than five decades, pro-life activists say.

Trump’s Stance on Same-Sex Marriage

Stahl wanted to know what a Trump administration would do about marriage equality. The billionaire said his administration would do nothing about it because courts already settled the issue.

“These cases have gone to the Supreme Court. They’ve been settled. … I’m fine with that,”

Trump told Stahl.

On the other hand, analysts believe a Trump administration could spell the doom for the LGBTQ movement. But abortion rights activists believe the administration could inflict more damage on reproductive rights.

Experts think that in the first four years, Roe v. Wade would stay in place. But if Trump names more than one pro-life justice to the Supreme Court, the ruling could be in trouble in the long run.

It also depends on which cases the nation’s highest court decides to hear in the next years.

Some reproductive rights advocates believe the landmark decision is safe. The argue that the decision survived similar pro-life administrations over the years. Plus, there have been several requests to overturn the decision, but the Supreme Court declined.

Why Roe is Safe in the Short Run

Experts believe that SCOTUS declined to overturn the landmark decision because they focus on the power of precedent. And Roe v. Wade has been around for four decades already.

One expert said the court would revisit it only if it finds “very, very, very, very good reasons.”

In addition, some pro-life justices declined to overturn the highly controversial decision. Conservative justice Anthony Kennedy who has the swing vote refused to overturn the ruling in two cases.

He did it first in 1992 in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which tied pregnancy termination’s legality to the third trimester. Kennedy missed the occasion this year too in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

Reproductive rights activists also think the case would not be overturned because Trump needs to appoint at least two pro-life justices to have a five-member majority. The U.S. Supreme Court has nine sitting judges but after the death of conservative justice Antonin Scalia there are four justices with liberal views, three with conservative views and Kennedy as the swing vote. But Kennedy has already decided against overturning the decision. So, the new president will need at least two more justices to favor his cause to get rid of Roe.

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