By IAN ALVANO, Catholic News Service | Published June 30, 2020
WASHINGTON (CNS)–Many of the country’s leading pro-life advocates said the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 29 ruling striking down a Louisiana abortion law puts women’s health in danger, allows subpar care of women and gives abortion clinics a pass on “commonsense regulations” for “the sake of profit.”
“Women were dealt a huge blow in today’s ruling from the Supreme Court,” said Abby Johnson, who used to be the director of a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Texas and currently leads the group And Then There Were None, which she founded.
“By deciding that abortion doctors and clinics need to follow a separate, less stringent set of rules than every other medical facility leaves women open to the consequences of an industry that has mastered cutting corners on health care,” said Johnson, whose organization assists abortion workers in leaving the abortion industry.
“Women will continue to get subpar care at abortion clinics because of this Supreme Court ruling,” Johnson said in a statement. “It’s not a victory for women, for access, for equality, like the abortion industry will say today. The back alley abortions that the industry thinks will happen if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned may very well become commonplace inside abortion clinics due to the lack of commonsense regulations that this case just dismantled.”
In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional Louisiana’s 2014 Unsafe Abortion Protection Act requiring that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.
Justice Stephen Breyer, who wrote the majority opinion in the case, June Medical Services v. Russo, said the law posed a “substantial obstacle” for women seeking abortions while providing “no significant health-related benefits.”
Breyer was joined in the opinion by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Chief Justice John Roberts filed an opinion concurring in the judgment of the four justices. In his dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas said the court’s decision “perpetuates its ill-founded abortion jurisprudence by enjoining a perfectly legitimate state law and doing so without jurisdiction.”
As a result of the ruling, pro-life advocates believe abortion clinics around the country will continue to cut corners on health care for women — which was the concern that led Louisiana state Sen. Katrina Jackson, a pro-life Democrat, to write the bill when she was a state representative.
Jackson said in a statement after the Supreme Court issued its ruling that one of the reasons she wrote the measure was the fact that in Louisiana, when a man chooses to go an outpatient surgical center, ambulatory surgical center and have a vasectomy, that physician is required to have admitting privileges. But not so for abortion clinics. The law passed with a bipartisan vote.
“As you know, in Louisiana, radiologists and ophthalmologists have performed abortions,” said Jackson.
“The March for Life is appalled by the Supreme Court’s decision today, which failed to hold Louisiana abortion facilities accountable for their numerous health and safety violations,” Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, said in a June 29 statement. “The legislation at issue in June Medical Services v. Russo was designed to safeguard women’s health and safety, which the abortion business in Louisiana egregiously sidelined for the sake of profit.”
“No abortion facility should receive a free pass to provide substandard care,” she added. “This decision underscores the importance of nominating and confirming judges who refrain from legislating from the bench, something pro-life voters will certainly remember come November.”
The Supreme Court failed to identify the main concern, which is the health of women, said Kristan Hawkins, Students for Life of America president. The ruling “prioritizes ending preborn life over saving a mother’s life” and only provides safety for the people in the abortion industry, she said.
Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League, said the Supreme Court’s narrow ruling in the Louisiana case “is a stark reminder that the pro-life movement must continue to follow a twofold strategy.”
“Our fight to defend the lives of unborn children and protect women from the dangerous and unregulated abortion industry must continue in our nation’s statehouses and courts,” Scheidler said in a statement. “But at the same time, we must work harder in the public square to educate our fellow Americans about abortion and offer women alternatives to abortion.”
“To all those disappointed by today’s ruling, I say, join us on the front lines,” he added. “Don’t wait for the next big court case. Speak out against abortion today. Because for every child we save from abortion through direct action, Roe v. Wade has already been overturned.”
The Justice Foundation’s president, Allan Parker, said the Supreme Court’s ruling went against the desires of the state of Louisiana.
“Today’s decision by the court is extremely disappointing to thousands who want to ensure protections for women,” Parker said. “While the justices ended up siding against the state of Louisiana, this case exposed the malfeasance, malpractice and misrepresentation of the abortion industry.”
“The state of Louisiana,” he added, “should be commended for fighting to protect women from being hurt by abortion.”