Despite the Supreme Court's landmark decision last year overturning Roe v. Wade, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., suggested Monday that there may still be a national right to abortion.
On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, a Clinton appointee, instructed lawyers to file briefs arguing whether the 13th Amendment to the Constitution protects the national right to abortion.
Slavery was abolished by the 13th Amendment, which was ratified in 1865, as The Washington Times added to their report.
She claimed that when the Supreme Court issued its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization last year, the justices only considered precedent pertaining to the 14th Amendment.
The decision overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that granted women a national right to abortion. The Supreme Court's decision effectively relegated abortion to the states.
In his June opinion, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. stated that nearly a half-century of attempting to make Roe work had proven futile, with Americans still sharply divided. He stated that the decision has failed in both legal scholarship and its goal of settling passions.
However, Judge Kollar-Kotelly stated that it is incorrect to state that the ruling "held that no provision of the Constitution extends any right to reproductive health services."
“For its part, and without the benefit of fuller briefing, the Court is uncertain that this is the case,” she wrote in a brief order on Monday.
“It is entirely possible that the Court might have held in Dobbs that some other provision of the Constitution provided a right to access reproductive services had that issue been raised.
"Of those provisions that might contain some right to access to such services, the Thirteenth Amendment has received substantial attention among scholars,” she said.
The case before Judge Kollar-Kotelly involves nine pro-life activists accused of violating federal law outside an abortion clinic in October of 2020.
They moved to dismiss the charges, citing the Dobbs decision, which declared abortion to be a constitutional right. The lawyers' briefs are due next month, according to Judge Kollar-Kotelly.
Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 1973, states where Republicans control the legislatures have moved to pass legislation severely restricting access to the procedure.
The Dobbs decision upheld Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban and returned abortion regulation to the states, upending decades of abortion jurisprudence.