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Supreme Court Strikes Down Louisiana Abortion Law that Was Meant to Protect Women's Health


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The US Supreme Court announced Monday it's overturning a Louisiana law that required abortion doctors in the state to have hospital admitting privileges. The law had been created to ensure the health and safety of women who face emergencies after abortions. 

In the 5-4 ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts joined with his four liberal colleagues on the high court to elevate abortion rights once again.

For pro-life women, this law was all about protecting the safety of other women. Outside the Court, Prudence Robertson of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List said, "This Supreme Court has decided to strike down a law that protects the safety of women and protects children from the tragedy of abortion."

And Catherine Foster of Americans United for Life said, "It's tragic because we have this largely unregulated field where women are getting injured, women are getting killed."

She continued, "When an abortion goes wrong — and we all know that they do, tragically wrong — women who've sought that abortion still deserve the same emergency care as any other woman."

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the dissent against the ruling, “Today a majority of the Court perpetuates its ill-founded abortion jurisprudence by enjoining a perfectly legitimate state law and doing so without jurisdiction.”

Trump’s two appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, joined Thomas in dissenting, along with Justice Samuel Alito.

That led Mallory Quigley of the Susan B. Anthony List to say CBN News' Faith Nation, "We know now that the president's two appointed justices, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, they came down on the right side and that they're going to stand with pro-lifers.  So that is encouraging."

This was the first big abortion case since Trump became president, and it's likely to fuel pro-life voters heading into the 2020 election, when many hope the balance of the Supreme Court can finally be shifted pro-life.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins was among the many pro-life advocates who were shocked and deeply disappointed in the decision.
"For too long, abortionists have flouted the law and derided health standards for women seeking abortion. As a Louisiana legislator, I authored one of the first abortion clinic regulations in the country to stop abortion clinics from operating in filthy, disgusting, unregulated conditions," Perkins said. "Unfortunately, in Louisiana and elsewhere these facilities have shown minimal concern for the well-being of women as many continued performing abortions in marginal conditions that put lives at risk as they falsify records to cover up their malpractice. With this decision, the Supreme Court has prevented Louisiana from enforcing the law to stop abortionists who regularly deride and violate health standards for women seeking abortion."

National Institute of Family and Life Advocates President and Founder Thomas Glessner stated his disappointment with the ruling, too.

"Women seeking abortions have the same right to competent and quality care as patients involved in other surgical procedures. This ruling allows the loophole enjoyed by abortionists to remain open at the expense of the women the abortion industry claims to serve," he said.

The justices wiping the law out wrote, “Louisiana's law poses a ‘substantial obstacle’ to women seeking an abortion...the law offers no significant health-related benefits...the law consequently imposed an ‘undue burden’ on a woman’s constitutional right to choose to have an abortion.”

The Louisiana law is similar to a Texas law that the Court struck down four years ago.   Back then, Chief Justice John Roberts was for the anti-abortion Texas law.  But now he flipped, saying the Texas decision is a controlling precedent. He wrote the new ruling is, "...controlled by (the Court's) decision four years ago invalidating a nearly identical Texas law."  

Regent Law Professor Brad Jacob spoke of Roberts' helping to kill the Louisiana law when not all that long ago he'd backed the Texas law. 

"He said in that case, 'this is wrong -- the Constitution does not require us to strike down a law requiring admitting privileges in a hospital.'  Today he said, 'even though I still think that opinion is wrong, I’m going to follow it.'   And so he followed the precedent that he himself said is wrong," explained the incredulous Professor Jacob.

Quigley said, “What we have today is a bitterly disappointing decision, especially on the part of the Chief Justice for his flip-flop.”

Louisiana Right to Life Executive Director Benjamin Clapper lamented, “We’re disappointed in today’s decision and we’re disappointed in Justice Roberts, who chose for the abortion facilities and their interests over protecting the health and safety of women.”

The dissenting justices argued that the law really does provide health and safety benefits for women.   Louisiana lawmakers said it's why they wrote the law.   Indeed, they were reacting to the actions of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell.  He was convicted of manslaughter involving a patient who died in his care while he was operating what investigators called a "house of horrors."

Clapper's Louisiana Right to Life helped those lawmakers write the law, which had overwhelming support among lawmakers and the public.   Clapper told CBN News, "We introduced this legislation in 2014 to close the loophole that allows abortion facilities to operate at a lower standard of care."

Democratic State Senator Katrina Jackson, the main advocate for the law in Louisiana's Senate, said, “Once again, unelected justices have substituted their policy preferences over the clear will of the people of my great state.   As long as the Supreme Court continues to meddle in an area that rightfully belongs in the democratic process, women will remain subject to substandard abortion facilities.”

The White House weighed in against the Court’s ruling, saying in a statement "...unelected justices have intruded on the sovereign prerogatives of state governments by imposing their own policy preference in favor of abortion to override legitimate safety regulations."

Clarence Thomas in his dissent bludgeoned his fellow justices.   He said none of the Court’s pro-abortion decisions are supported by the U.S. Constitution.  He labeled them "a creation that should be undone."

He went right after the Roe v. Wade ruling that made abortion legal nationwide and the rulings that followed it, writing, “Despite the readily apparent illegitimacy of Roe, the Court has doggedly adhered to (it’s core holding) again and again, often to disastrous ends.”

Thomas also wrote, "Abortion precedents are grievously wrong and should be overruled."

Professor Jacob backed Thomas, saying of the pro-choice justices, “Their job is to apply the words, the original meaning of the United States Constitution.  And if there's an earlier opinion that is wrong, and they knowingly follow the earlier wrong opinion -- follow precedent instead of following the Constitution itself -- I think they've violated their oath of office.  I think they have acted unconstitutionally."

However, Ilyse Hogue of the pro-abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America stated, “...even a Court tilted so far right couldn’t ignore the concrete arguments and data showing that public health is compromised by these burdensome restrictions on abortion.”

But now many are asking is the Court actually all that conservative?   What this decision and several others show is that the conservative majority court-watchers thought would now hold sway may not be real.  Chief Justice Roberts was once thought to be a fairly firm conservative vote.  But he has sided repeatedly with the four more liberal justices.   When he does it on an issue as precious to conservatives as abortion, it means probably every issue is up in the air.   


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Benjamin Gill oversees all web content as the Multimedia Manager for He has been on staff with CBN News as an internet and broadcast producer since 2000. You can follow him on Twitter @BenGillCBN. Here are some of his commentaries and articles: Pursuing Truth in a World of Fake News: Reflections of a Christian Journalist After 20 Years with CBN News The Breaking Point: Pandemic Pain, Persistent Prayer, and God's Bigger Picture Plagues, the End Times, and Trusting in God's Protection: 'You Will Hear Us and Rescue Us' 12 Powerful Bible Verses to Build Your Faith and Fight Fear