WASHINGTON — Amy Brenneman, an actor, wants Justice Anthony Kennedy to know about the abortion she had when she was a 21-year-old college junior.
Taking a page from the movement for same-sex marriage, Brenneman and more than 100 other women have filed several supporting briefs in a major Supreme Court abortion case to be argued Wednesday. The briefs tell the stories of women who say their abortions allowed them to control their bodies, plan for the future and welcome children into their lives when their careers were established and their personal lives were on solid ground.
The briefs are aimed largely at Kennedy. They use language and concepts from his four major gay rights decisions, notably his invocation of "equal dignity" in June's ruling establishing a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.
"Why has marriage equality gained so much ground, and reproductive justice seems to be losing so much ground?" Brenneman, known for her roles on NYPD Blue and Judging Amy, said in an interview. Partly, she said, because gay couples have come out of the shadows, but many women still believe abortions to be shameful secrets.
But Allan Parker, a lawyer with the antiabortion group the Justice Foundation, said the women's briefs may only alienate Kennedy.
"The abortion industry is trying to make it sound like abortion is a joyful experience," he said. "But even women who say it was necessary say it was not joyful."
The case, Whole Woman's Health vs. Hellerstedt, concerns a challenge to a restrictive Texas law brought by abortion clinics in the state. They say the law could reduce the number of clinics to about 10 from about 40 by requiring doctors who perform abortions to obtain admitting privileges at hospitals and requiring clinics to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers.