January 7, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – The Trump administration, Priests for Life, and Rachel’s Vineyard have submitted amicus briefs urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a Louisiana law imposing medical standards on abortion facilities.
In March, the nation’s highest court will hear arguments in June Medical Services LLC v. Gee, which 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.
On Friday, the Trump administration filed a brief arguing that the so-called “burdens” imposed by the law, namely a “modest increase in the waiting time (less than an hour) to obtain an abortion,” pale in comparison to the benefits of ensuring abortion facilities are held to rigorous medical standards – especially in light of the “profound ethical concerns presented by atrocities at abortion clinics like those run by Kermit Gosnell.”
Last week, the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) filed a brief on behalf of Priests for Life and Rachel’s Vineyard arguing that Louisiana has a “paramount right to protect the health and safety of its citizens,” including by “enacting regulations to raise the standard and quality of care for women seeking abortions.” The brief also includes “testimonies of victims of abortion from states across the country,” who “have been harmed in a profound way by this deadly procedure.”
“I went to a place in Baton Rouge. I don't remember the name. It was absolutely demonic,” testified “Carmen” about her 1978 abortion, five years after Roe v. Wade supposedly made the practice safe. “I remember lying on the table and saying to the nurse, 'I'm not sure I want to do this. I'm killing my baby.' She just looked at me, cold and silent. I remember the doctor's face. When he came into the room, he was laughing. There was definitely an evil spirit there.”
“One who reads carefully the dozens of abortion decisions the Supreme Court has issued since Roe vs. Wade can see that the Court’s jurisprudence on this topic is rudderless and arbitrary,” said Priests for Life national director Fr. Frank Pavone. “Given that this is the first Supreme Court abortion case which both Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh will hear, we can hope that the Court will begin to acknowledge that it has overstepped its bounds in many ways on this issue, and will begin to introduce, step by step, more sanity into our public policy on abortion.”
Last week, more than 200 members of Congress signed another amicus brief calling on the Supreme Court to take the Gee case as an opportunity to review its entire body of abortion precedent, all the way back to Roe v. Wade.
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 or Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which force all 50 states to permit most abortions.
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.
Either way, a ruling in the case is likely to be handed down during this already-contentious election year, in which abortion and judicial nominations will be major issues for both Trump and the Democrat nominee.