A School of Law student looks through a textbook during a Contracts class. Taken April 9, in a School of Law classroom.

School of Law Prolife Center Files Brief in Supreme Court Case June Medical Services v. Gee

The University of St. Thomas Prolife Center has filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of Concerned Women for America and the Charlotte Lozier Institute with the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of June Medical Services, LLC v. Gee.

In October, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in the case to determine whether abortion providers can be presumed to have third-party standing to challenge health and safety regulations on behalf of their patients absent showing a “close” relationship with their patients and a “hindrance” to their patients’ ability to sue on their own behalf.

The amicus brief filed by the Prolife Center provides the Court with 47 years of data showing that while women have filed lawsuits seeking public funding of abortion and objecting to parental and spousal consent requirements, they rarely challenge health and safety laws related to abortion. The absence of such lawsuits undercuts claims by abortion providers that they are representing the interests of their patients when attacking such laws.

A summary of the brief:

Counsel for amici examined 637 federal cases decided after Jan. 1, 1973 and before December 2019. In each case, plaintiffs challenged laws or regulations perceived to interfere with abortion rights. The study did not include state cases and federal cases involving tort or criminal charges brought against individual doctors for providing abortions, wrongful birth actions, immigration and/or asylum cases involving abortions that took place in another country, clinic protest cases and general birth control access actions.

In the three years between 1973, when Roe v. Wade was decided, and 1976, when Singleton v. Wulff was decided, women were more likely than doctors, hospitals, or clinics to file challenges to abortion-related laws. Thirty-three federal cases were brought by women or minors alone, while only 22 cases were brought by providers. Since 1976, there have been 16 years in which there were no cases filed by women alone,[1] and 13 years in which they have brought only one.[2]

Since the Singleton opinion was handed down in 1976, year after year providers have filed more lawsuits challenging abortion-related laws than have the women purportedly affected. From 1973 to 2019, there has been an annual average of 2.1 women filing lawsuits alone; providers average 9.1 cases per year; women and providers have joined in the same lawsuit in 1.6 cases per year.

Women are most likely to file lawsuits seeking public funding for abortion or challenging laws that require parental, spousal or judicial consent. In contrast, there are almost no cases filed by women alone challenging conscience rights, informed consent requirements, fetal disposition laws, and provider regulations generally. This pattern suggests that women either generally support or at least do not oppose laws like the one before this Court today that are aimed at providing them with more information, safer, cleaner facilities, and more skilled providers. Cf.Singleton, 428 U.S. at 113-114 (standing requirements avoid challenges to laws where “holders of those rights either do not wish to assert them, or will be able to enjoy them regardless of whether the in-court litigant is successful or not.”).

[1] 1979, 1982,1983, 1984, 88, 1993, 1994, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2009, 2010, 2014, 2016, and 2017.

[2] 1985, 1987, 1989, 1995, 1996, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2018.

The case of June Medical Services, LLC v. Gee is set to be argued before the Supreme Court in March, 2020.

The University of St. Thomas Prolife Center is led by law professor Teresa Collett, who has represented states, government officials and medical groups in defending laws protecting human life and marriage. Assisting on the brief was second-year law student Carolyn McDonnell ‘21.