US lawyers who have had abortions file Supreme Court brief
Supreme Court (Photo: Joe Ravi/cc)

More than 360 American women who have had abortions and work in the legal profession, including several high-profile attorneys, have filed a brief with the Supreme Court ahead of a closely watched abortion case.

"I write because I want the Court to know how access to safe and legal abortion made my law career possible and changed my life," said one of the 368 signatories to the brief filed with the court on Monday.

The nine-member Supreme Court is to hear a challenge in March to a restrictive abortion law in the state of Louisiana.

The law requires doctors at Louisiana abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles (50 kilometers) of where the procedure is being carried out.

Abortion rights advocates say this restriction would force the closure of most of the state's clinics, leaving it with just one doctor authorized to perform abortions.

The Supreme Court's deliberations will come in the middle of the 2020 presidential campaign -- and its eventual ruling will be the first significant decision on the hot-button issue since President Donald Trump appointed Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, shifting the court's balance to the right.

The signatories to the brief include female attorneys with prominent law firms around the country, law school professors, retired judges, law school students and others in the legal profession.

They recounted their personal experiences with abortion and the circumstances which led them to undergo the procedure.

"Identifying myself publicly brings me fear of reprisal from my colleagues and my broader community in South Carolina, many of whom are deeply religious and against abortion," one woman said. "I suspect that many would (and will) see me differently -- as morally inferior -- upon learning that I have had an abortion."

The women said in the brief that they were "certain that they would not have been able to realize their personal and/or professional goals were it not for their ability to control their reproductive lives."

They were coming forward -- "some at immeasurable personal and professional cost" -- to ensure that women have "all that the Constitution and the Court have rightfully promised them," they said.

The Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973 but anti-abortion groups have made repeated efforts to roll it back since then.