For years, the pro-life movement poured much of its energy into litigation, confident that would eventually be limited, if not expressly overruled.To be sure, there were a few visionaries, but their fears were generally dismissed.
And if a law does not amount to an unconstitutional burden if courts can invent a justification for it, then laws would be upheld even when there is no evidence that they would help any woman, ever. By voting to allow the Louisiana law to go into effect, four justices gave the okay to states and lower courts to limit Roe by whatever means necessary.
Today, reproductive justice advocates had reason for momentary celebration only because there were not yet five justices who were willing to allow the Louisiana law to go into effect at this moment. The court is only one vote away from allowing the states and the lower federal courts to all but overturn a Supreme Court case that was decided as recently as 2016.
But a promise not to enforce a law is not a reason to allow that law to go into effect, particularly when the court has declared that same law unconstitutional just two years ago.
And even a small risk that the law would be enforced would have drastic consequences, because if a clinic closes even temporarily, it may not ever reopen.
It would be years before professional demographers took the full measure of that cultural revolution, and when they did, even they were startled.
Here is how one of them, looking back on the period, summarized what happened: "It is exceedingly rare in the history of populations that sudden changes appear across the entire set of demographic indicators.
Similarly, the 5th Circuit acknowledged that it did not have any evidence that the Louisiana admitting-privileges requirement would help the health or safety of any women, even though it created a burden on providers and their patients.
That is the standard the Supreme Court set in the Texas case for when a law is unconstitutional, but the court of appeals said that it could imagine how it might be plausible to think the requirement might benefit some women.
Four justices would have taken it, and allowed Louisiana to enforce the very same law that the court had so recently invalidated.
At this point, the question is how long will Chief Justice John G. stand between those four justices and an open season on Roe v. Read more: Jennifer Rubin: The biggest losers in the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling Andrea Miller: Where the fight for abortion rights will take place next Ilyse Hogue: Think abortion should be punished?