Supreme Court hears arguments in major abortion case that could overturn Roe
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 4, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – The United States Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments Wednesday on a Louisiana law imposing medical standards on abortion facilities, a case that could have drastic ramifications for the states’ ability to restrict or regulate abortion.
June Medical Services LLC v. Russo concerns Louisiana’s requirement that abortion centers make arrangements for admitting women to nearby hospitals in cases of life-threatening complications. The abortion industry’s attorneys argue the law is no different from the Texas law the Supreme Court struck down in 2016’s Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt; pro-lifers argue that not only was Hellerstedt wrongly decided but that the Louisiana law is different from the Texas one.
Pro-life and pro-abortion activists rallied outside the court this morning as arguments commenced.
“Allowing the abortion industry to police itself is like trusting the tobacco industry to stop lung cancer,” Kristan Hawkins, President of Students for Life of America, told the pro-lifers gathered. “They both sell a deadly product that causes harm and have to be held accountable.”
Last September, Judge Jerry Smith of the Fifth Circuit (which upheld the law) noted that while the laws may be similar, the Louisiana measure’s impact would be different as most Louisiana hospitals didn’t have the Texas requirement that doctors must see a minimum number of patients per year to qualify for admitting privileges. In February, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh noted (in a dissent to a ruling granting a stay of the law) that Act 620 had a 45-day transition period during which “both the doctors and the relevant hospitals” could have acted “expeditiously and in good faith to reach a definitive conclusion” as to whether the physicians in question could have obtained admitting privileges under the rules.
The Trump administration and various pro-life organizations have filed numerous amicus briefs siding with Louisiana, making the case that the state law is a constitutional and proper answer to the very real problem of abortion facilities that cannot be trusted to put women’s safety first.
“Louisiana abortion providers have a record of non-compliance with basic safety regulations, and now they want a special exemption from generally-accepted medical standards that apply to similar surgical procedures in our State,” Louisiana Attorneey General Jeff Landry said in a statement Tuesday. “Women seeking abortions deserve better than that; they should have the same assurance of prompt and proper care in the event of complications.”
"The dilators had dried crusted blood down in the crevices of the numbers engraved on the side... The surgical tools were so rusted that if you rubbed your hand down it, it would leave a rusty, orange streak on your palm."#ProtectWomen #ProtectLife https://t.co/3SWKelnZrc— FRC (@FRCdc) March 4, 2020
“We are closely watching this case and consider it extremely relevant to the future of our nation,” said Andrew Bath, general counsel and executive vice president of the Thomas More Society, which filed its own brief in the case. “Here in Illinois, supporters of extreme abortion policy have stripped away almost all protections for pregnant women and their preborn children. Illinois has the most radical abortion laws in the United States, heinously permitting abortion up to and including the moment of birth.”
The case is likely to at the very least impact the Hellerstedt precedent, which has been used to invalidate a broad range of modest abortion regulations as “undue burdens” on women. It remains to be seen whether the court takes the opportunity to make a broader determination on the underlying legitimacy of Roe v. Wade or Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which force all 50 states to permit most abortions. In January, more than 200 members of Congress signed a brief urging the court to use the case as an occasion to reconsider Roe.
“In revisiting this issue, we hope to see the Court respect the right of state lawmakers to protect women and girls,” commented Marjorie Dannenfelser, President of the Susan B. Anthony List. “Abortionists – not women – are fighting against these protections. They represent their own interest, not the health and safety of women.”
Roe is largely defended not on its legal merits (numerous pro-abortion legal minds, including Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg herself, have acknowledged the ruling’s flaws), but on its status as precedent, with the contemporary interpretation of the stare decisis doctrine holding that Roe’s lengthy history staying on the books grants it added weight. Justice Clarence Thomas has forcefully rejected such arguments; it remains to be seen how Chief Justice John Roberts or President Trump’s two SCOTUS appointees, Neil Gorscuh and Brett Kavanaugh, will weigh Roe’s precedent versus its substance.
This morning abortion activists shouted and blasted music in an attempt to drown out the pro-life rally, including stories from Louisiana women who regret their abortions, multiple sources on the ground told LifeSiteNews.
“In violently killing preborn children and harming the bodies of women, the abortion industry and its allies perpetuate a cycle of abuse that state governments fail to acknowledge, penalize, or curb,” commented Lila Rose, President of Live Action. “Unsurprisingly, abortionists routinely thwart standards designed to mitigate the harm done to women during abortions.”
“We in the pro-life movement are never surprised when we learn that those who violently destroy the bodies of children for profit are willing to harm women as collateral damage in that pursuit. We are fighting for the dignity of every human being, including children killed in abortion and the women who undergo these abortions.”
Just got out of arguments in June Medical Services, the Supreme Court’s big abortion case. I think there is actually a chance Chief Justice Roberts will apply Whole Women’s Health and strike down Louisiana’s admitting privileges requirement.— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) March 4, 2020