The United States Supreme Court decided Monday that Louisiana’s Act 620 — the Unsafe Abortion Protection Act, which required abortion providers in the state to operate with hospital admitting privileges — was unconstitutional.
The 5-4 decision came down to conservative Justices Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Thomas opposing the four more liberal-leaning Justices and a surprising swing vote by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. Roberts, appointed by George W. Bush, went against his own previous opinion in support of upholding a similar law in Texas just four years ago.
In the majority opinion, Justice Stephen G. Breyer noted that the Louisiana law was unconstitutional due to its similarity to the TX case which was struck down in 2016. The majority opinion also stated that the law “offers no significant health benefits” but “places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking abortion.”
A closer look at the case reveals some major flaws that have disturbed pro-life leaders across the nation. For one, the case itself should have never been brought before the court. The complaint was filed by abortion providers, not an individual or even a group of individuals personally involved.
Justice Neil Gorsuch writes in his dissenting opinion: “to establish standing order in federal court, a plaintiff typically must assert an injury to her own legally protected interests – not the rights of someone else… No one even attempts to suggest this usual prerequisite is satisfied here. The plaintiffs before us are abortion providers. They do not claim a constitutional right to perform that procedure, and no one on the Court contends they hold such a right.”
Another flaw in the decision goes back to the Texas case decided in 2016, Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Several Justices Monday acknowledged that the court erred four years ago, but agreed to “let the judgment stand” for the sake of continuity and to uphold the precedent of the Court.
Justice Roberts wrote, “I joined the dissent in Whole Women’s Health and continue to believe the case was wrongly decided. The question today however is not whether Whole Women’s Health was right or wrong, but whether to adhere to it in deciding the present case.”
The concern to uphold the precedent of the court regardless of previous error, leads to another major flaw in Monday’s decision — this creates a gaping hole in the protection of individual freedoms. Women become the victim and their freedom (dare I say “choice”) is lost.
Dr. Brent Boles, OB/GYN and author, stated that Monday’s case “was not a case about the right to have an abortion. It was a case about whether a woman seeking an abortion has the same right to see a provider who is qualified and able to handle her care safely as she does when she sees any legitimate medical provider.”
Thomas Glessner, NIFLA President and Founder, added, “This ruling allows the loophole enjoyed by abortionists to remain open at the expense of the women the abortion industry claims to serve. All states, including LA, have an interest in regulating abortion and a duty to protect women.”
While those who support abortion are ecstatic about Monday’s decision. It was a major blow to those in the pro-life camp. Many are expressing feelings of disappointment and defeat.
Though nothing is essentially broken in the judicial process, it is certainly not perfect. We live in a world full of flawed, imperfect humans and this alone brings imperfection to every matter of life and liberty.
Am I discouraged and anxious about what this will mean for women’s health across our nation? Of course I am. But I am not defeated.
Though we may not see a reversal of Roe v. Wade in my lifetime, I will not disengage. Since that devastating blow in 1973, the pro-life movement has engaged in a very long and hard battle. If we surrendered after every defeat, we would have lost a long time ago. But thanks be to God, the giver of life itself, He has given us the opportunity to reach our culture for life one woman, one man, one child at a time.
I will cherish the work He has put before me at the pregnancy center in downtown Wilmington, and though I may get discouraged, I will not disengage! I pray the same for you as well.
Sherry Weller is Executive Director of New Life Clinic in Wilmington.