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The unprecedented wave of unconstitutional abortion bans and extreme abortion restrictions moving across the country aren’t just happening because anti-abortion politicians have power in many states. They are also happening because politicians believe the courts will uphold restrictions on people’s health and rights. Why? Because President Trump has packed federal courts with judges who oppose reproductive rights.

The truth is: Trump is using the courts and politicians in a coordinated attack on abortion access, with the ultimate goal of overturning Roe v. Wade. They think they can get away with it — but we won’t let them.

Here’s what’s happened already, what to watch out for next, and how you can fight back.

Trump-Nominated Judges Gave the Green Light for Abortion Bans and Restrictions

With the Supreme Court appointments of Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch — both of whom have long records of restricting reproductive rights —  Trump has tipped the balance of the Supreme Court away from protecting the right to safe, legal abortion.

But he didn’t stop there. Trump inherited over 100 open judgeships across the country when he took office. Trump acted quickly, setting a record for confirming the most federal appeals judges in a president’s first year. 

Since they’re in lifetime positions, Trump-nominated judges are positioned to rule on cases that affect reproductive rights for a generation. These judges will get to decide the fate of laws like the six-week abortion bans passed in eight states, as well as federal and state measures to “defund” Planned Parenthood

The Trump-Pence Administration Is Reshaping the Nation’s Courts 

Senators are confirming Trump’s nominees to lifetime positions as federal judges — where they can affect our rights and access to health care for generations to come.

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Three Circuit Courts Flipped to Majority GOP-Appointed Judges — and Are Ruling on Key Reproductive Rights Cases

As of late July 2019, 43 anti-abortion judges had been appointed to the nation's circuit courts of appeals since Trump became president — and two anti-abortion justices had been appointed to the Supreme Court. The vast majority of Trump's judges are members of the Federalist Society — a right-wing legal association that wants to overturn Roe v. Wade and has been described as the administration’s “pipeline” to the Supreme Court.

After over two years of rushing through judicial nominees, Trump flipped the balance of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals to have a majority of GOP-appointed judges. Now, this court — and others — have more sitting judges whose records indicate they’d rule against reproductive rights than judges who support reproductive rights.

Here are just a few cases where these majority-conservative courts have ruled on or may soon rule on. Warning: This is cause for alarm. But keep reading to learn what you can do to protect reproductive rights.


The harm that Trump judges are inflicting is exemplified by how the new anti-reproductive health majority on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to obstruct patients’ access  to care at Planned Parenthood in Ohio.

  • After Trump put six judges on the Sixth Circuit, the bench had a total of 11 anti-reproductive health judges and just five pro-reproductive health judges. 

  • With an anti-reproductive health majority, the Sixth Circuit voted against Planned Parenthood patients and in favor of a law to “defund” Planned Parenthood, blocking patients who use public health programs from getting preventive care at its health centers.


The Pennsylvania attorney general is challenging the Trump-Pence administration’s rules to roll back a nationwide Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirement that ensures access to birth control with no out-of-pocket costs.

  • If the Third Circuit Court of Appeals decides to rule against the ACA contraception mandate, your employer could take away birth control coverage in its health insurance plans.

  • The Third Circuit is filled with a majority of conservative judges, including four nominated by previous Republican presidents and four nominated by Trump — including one vacancy recently filled by a Trump-nominated judge.


The hostile Sixth Circuit is currently deciding on two important cases in Kentucky:

  • A Kentucky abortion provider is challenging a law forcing all abortion providers in the state to administer a medically unnecessary ultrasound, describe it to patients, and play aloud the cardiac electrical activity. The law is intended to shame patients  seeking safe, legal abortion care. 

  • The same Kentucky abortion provider is challenging laws that force abortion providers in the state to have transfer agreements with a local hospital and a transport agreement with ambulance services. Both are difficult and sometimes impossible to obtain. These targeted restrictions against abortion providers (TRAP) laws are intended to stop abortion providers from operating.

Another circuit court — the Eleventh — is on the verge of transforming into hostile territory for reproductive health and rights.

Tell Your Senators: Reject Trump’s Extreme Judicial Nominees

Trump has pledged to only nominate justices who he said would “automatically” overturn Roe v. Wade — so we can’t stand by.

Call your senator. Demand they reject these extreme nominees.

Take Action

Looming Legal Challenges: Unconstitutional Abortion Bans

Other cases coming to courts with Trump-appointed judges include challenges to extreme, unprecedented and unconstitutional abortion bans. These dangerous bans have passed in seven states, and challenges to the laws could end up in the following circuit courts. 

Alabama in the 11th Circuit 

  • In May, Alabama passed a near-total abortion ban that keeps abortion out of reach for most women at all stages of pregnancy. 

  • Under Alabama’s law, doctors who provide abortion would be charged with a felony and thrown in prison for up to 99 years. Planned Parenthood Southeast and the ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging the law in federal court (District Court of the Middle District of Alabama). 

  • If the ruling there is appealed, the case likely will go to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The Eleventh Circuit’s 12 active judges include six GOP-nominated judges, three of whom are Trump nominees.

Georgia in the 11th Circuit

  • In May, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a six-week abortion ban into law. It is sure to be challenged in court. Planned Parenthood and the ACLU are preparing a legal challenge there. 

  • Potential next stop: the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which is on the verge of transforming into hostile territory for reproductive rights.

Missouri in the 8th Circuit

  • In May, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed an eight-week ban into law. The ACLU filed a lawsuit in June against the state for rejecting a referendum application to overturn the new abortion law. 

  • Potential outcome: the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals now includes four Trump-nominated judges, entrenching its status as overwhelmingly anti-reproductive health.

Kentucky and Ohio in the 6th Circuit

  • In March, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin signed a six-week abortion ban into law. A federal court (District Court for the Western District of Kentucky) temporarily blocked the law. Potential next stop: Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Sixth Circuit’s 16 active judges include 11 GOP-nominated judges, and six of them are Trump nominees.

  • In April, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed a six-week ban into law, set to take effect in July. Planned Parenthood and the ACLU have filed suit against the ban in Ohio. Potential next stop: the hostile Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Mississippi and Louisiana in the 5th Circuit

  • In March, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed a six-week ban into law. A federal Court (District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi) temporarily blocked the law. Potential next stop: Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (see “Court Close-Up”). The Fifth Circuit’s 16 active judges include 11 GOP-nominated judges;  five of them are Trump nominees.

  • In May, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed a six-week ban into law. The measure will take effect if the Fifth Circuit Court upholds Mississippi’s nearly identical law.

Another 10 states have introduced six-week abortion bans: Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia

Overwhelmed? We hear you. The judges’ records on reproductive rights are so terrible — and the threat posed by these dangerous laws to women’s lives is so great — that we declared a state of emergency for reproductive health. But you have the power to help. 

Take Action Now

Here’s what YOU can do to fight for reproductive rights, and help ensure that abortion remains safe and legal:

  • Tell your senators to reject anti-abortion judges
    Call your senators now. Tell them they must protect our rights by voting for judicial nominees who will protect our reproductive rights and health before it is too late.

  • Call on 2020 candidates 

    • Tell candidates in all 2020 elections — including in the Senate — to include the topic of judges when discussing their reproductive health platforms.

    • Attend forums, town halls, and other events where 2020 candidates will be, and ask about the courts — including questions about whether candidates will prioritize restoring legitimacy to the federal judiciary.

    Follow and share what’s happening to our courts

    • Stay in-the-know by following @PPAct on Twitter and Facebook, signing up for our emails, and keeping tabs on our blog.

    • Bring that knowledge to town halls, forums, digital platforms, the dinner table, and the ballot box. 

Tags: Federal Courts

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No Abortion Bans. Not Now, Not Ever.

Here’s how you can take action to stop the extreme abortion bans sweeping the country and join the #BansOffMyBody movement.

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