On January 22, pro-life people from across the country will gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court for a prayer vigil. The date is the 47th
anniversary of the tragic Roe v. Wade
decision that legalized abortion through all nine months of pregnancy and for any reason.
Those gathered will pray for an end to this national scourge.
But some of those same pro-life advocates, myself included, will make our voices heard also inside the Supreme Court during these weeks, as the Justices consider the case June Medical Services LLC vs. Gee. This case asks the Court to uphold Louisiana’s “Unsafe Abortion Protection Act,” which seeks to protect the women of Louisiana by enforcing commonsense health standards at abortion facilities.
The Court will review whether the ruling of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld Louisiana’s law, conflicts with a 2016 Supreme Court ruling in a separate case, Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt.
Both cases concern laws requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges in hospitals near their abortion facilities, so that they can accompany, admit, and care for the women who may have to be hospitalized in case of complications after abortion. In Hellerstedt, decided after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court ruled 5-3 that requiring these admitting privileges would make it harder for women in Texas to have an abortion.
Yet the court did not say that hospital admitting privilege laws are per se unconstitutional.
The Louisiana case is almost identical to Hellerstedt but the important difference is that the Fifth Circuit, in considering the differences between Texas and Louisiana, found that the benefits of Louisiana’s “Unsafe Abortion Protection Act” outweighed its burdens. Hence it upheld the law.
In his opinion, Fifth Circuit Judge Jerry Smith wrote that “the admitting privileges requirement performs a real, and previously unaddressed, credentialing function that promotes the well-being of women seeking abortion.”
The well-being of women seeking abortion is at the core of a “Friend of the Court” brief filed for Priests for Life on Dec. 27, 2019, by the American Freedom Law Center.
The brief stresses two main points:
- Louisiana has a paramount right to protect the health and safety of its citizens, and this includes enacting regulations to raise the standard and quality of care for women seeking abortions.
- Louisiana has a paramount right to regulate abortion in order to minimize its harmful effects.
The brief, brought also by Priests for Life’s affiliate ministries Rachel’s Vineyard (the world’s largest ministry for healing after abortion) and Silent No More (a campaign through which those who have had abortions share their stories) includes testimonies of mothers who were victimized by the abortion industry, and points out the need for the kinds of protective steps Louisiana has taken.
One woman, Carmen, tells of the abortion she had in 1978 in Baton Rouge:
“I went to a place in Baton Rouge. I don’t remember the name. It was absolutely demonic. 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.”
When Georgia got pregnant, everyone in her life advised her to abort her child. But a physician’s assistant at her doctor’s office gave her one piece of advice: “She told me not to go to the abortion clinic in Baton Rouge because it was ‘really bad.’”
Through its brief, Priests for Life tells the Supreme Court justices it is imperative that Court hears the voices of these and other women whose stories were included, “because these testimonies demonstrate that what is needed is more regulations like those enacted by Louisiana, not less. Striking down Louisiana’s law will make it harder to protect women such as these. Make no mistake, abortion is not only fatal to the unborn; it is exceedingly harmful to women, as these testimonies vividly illustrate.”
The candlelight prayer vigil on Jan. 22 in front the Supreme Court will be a solemn one because of the anniversary it marks. As the week goes on, hundreds of thousands of Americans will join us for various pro-life events, culminating in the March for Life on Friday the 24th. Meanwhile the Justices — including, for the first time in an abortion case, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — will weigh the Constitutional arguments. It is our hope that the presence of so many people still protesting Roe vs. Wade so long after it was decided, will help convince them that the Court’s approach to abortion all these years has so far proven unworkable.
Fr. Frank Pavone is one of the most prominent pro-life leaders in the world. He became a Catholic priest in 1988 under Cardinal John O’Connor in New York. In 1993 he became National Director of Priests for Life. He is also the President of the National Pro-life Religious Council, and the National Pastoral Director of the Silent No More Campaign and of Rachel’s Vineyard, the world’s largest ministry of healing after abortion. He travels to about four states every week, preaching and teaching against abortion. He broadcasts regularly on television, radio, and internet. He was asked by Mother Teresa to speak in India on abortion, and was asked by then-candidate Donald Trump to serve on his Pro-life and Catholic advisory councils. He has served at the Vatican as an official of the Pontifical Council for the Family, which coordinates the pro-life activities of the Catholic Church. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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