WSJ misstated Supreme Court record on abortion

In a July 5 editorial about the newly created Supreme Court vacancy, titled “After O'Connor,” The Wall Street Journal falsely claimed: "[I]t is the [Supreme] Court's extremism that has blocked just about any regulation of abortion even up to the time of birth." In fact, in two landmark cases, the Supreme Court upheld significant regulations of abortion.

In the 1989 case Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, the Supreme Court upheld a Missouri law “prohibit[ing] the use of public employees and facilities to perform or assist abortions not necessary to save the mother's life” and the use of “public funds, employees, or facilities for the purpose of 'encouraging or counseling' a woman to have an abortion not necessary to save her life.” The court also upheld the portion of the law requiring physicians to perform tests to determine the viability of any fetus believed to be at least 20 weeks old.

In the 1992 case Planned Parenthood Of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, the Supreme Court upheld Pennsylvania's 24-hour waiting period, informed consent, and parental notification requirements, holding that those regulations did not constitute an “undue burden” on the right to receive an abortion -- a new standard articulated in an opinion signed by justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Anthony Kennedy, and David H. Souter. The case also upheld the constitutionality of recordkeeping and reporting requirements on facilities providing abortion services, except relating to spousal notice. The Journal article itself referenced Casey, but only as a case “reaffirming Roe and a woman's right to abortion.”