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Abortion access

Developments during 2018 & 2019:

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This topic is continued from the previous essay for 2017

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2018: Free speech wins out at Kennesaw State University in the state of Georgia:

Ratio Christi -- which is Latin for 'The Reason of Christ' -- is non-profit conservative Christian organization with chapters in universities worldwide. One chapter is a registered student organization at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, GA. They promote legislative changes to make abortions unavailable to women, apparently at all stages of pregnancy.

On two occasions, the university judged their messages to be controversial, and restricted their displays to a free speech zone at the university. The area consisted of about 15,700 square feet in size, about the size of a dozen average-sized houses. The Baptist Press implies that this area is miniscule. They describe it -- perhaps somewhat deceptively -- as "0.08% of the school's campus" area of 450 acres. 1

With the help of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), on 2018-FEB-20, the student group at Kennesaw filed a federal court case in the District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, titled: "Ratio Christi of Kennesaw State University v. Olens." "Olens" refers to Samuel S. Olens, the former President of the university. Ratio Christi won the lawsuit. 2

ADF Senior Counsel Travis Barham commented:

"Kennesaw State has done the right thing in ending the ability of officials to quarantine any student speech they deemed 'controversial' to a tiny, difficult-to-access part of campus. We hope that this settlement will prompt other public universities to eliminate similar unconstitutional policies.

The First Amendment prohibits universities from restricting where students can speak, whether that restriction is based on what students intend to say or simply based on sparing the feelings of others who may disagree." 2

On 2018-OCT-12, the University updated its "Freedom of Expression Policy," to allow student groups to freely use certain "open outdoor areas of campus ... [as] venus for expression." The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) now rates the university's freedom of expression policy as "Green." 3

A color photograph on Ratio Christi's Facebook page shows their display in an outdoor location under an open tent. A sign asks "Should Abortion Remain Legal" Two other signs are marked "Yes" and "No." Pamphlets are available on the desk above each sign.

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2019-OCT-04: U.S. Supreme Court accepts the review of a major abortion lawsuit:

The High Court has agreed to review a lower court's ruling in a case "June Medical Services LLC v. Gee. The court's decision could severely restrict application of the "Roe v. Wade" 1973 ruling by the same court.

"Roe" allowed women to freely choose to have an abortion if it is performed before the fetus is viable. The lawsuit is over a state law in Louisiana that requires physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges in a local hospital. The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has found the Louisiana law to be unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court overturned a similar state law in Texas during 2016. However, it may reverse its decision this time, because two solidly conservative Justices have replaced more liberal Justices on the court since 2016. The court is expected to hear oral arguments early in 2020, and issue its ruling in 2020-JUN. 4

If the Louisiana law is found to be constitutional, then it would require most women in that state who want an abortion to go another state or country to have it performed. It would also encourage other Republican-controlled legislatures to pass laws similar to Louisiana's.

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
  1. Diana Chandler, "Christian apologetics club wins free speech battle," Baptist Press, 2018-OCT-19, at: http://www.bpnews.net/
  2. "Ratio Christi of Kennesaw State University v. Olens," Alliance Defending Freedom, 2018-OCT-19, at: http://www.adfmedia.org/
  3. "Kennesaw State University Freedom of Expression Policy," Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, 2018-OCT-12, at: https://www.thefire.org/
  4. Michael Foust, "Supreme Court to Hear Major Abortion Case that Could ‘Gut Roe v. Wade’," Christian Headlines, 2019-OCT-07, at: https://www.christianheadlines.com/

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Copyright 2018 & 2019 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2018-OCT-23

Latest update: 2019-OCT-08
Author: B.A. Robinson

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