Supreme Court Battle Over Texas Pro-Life Law Marks Pivotal Moment in Fight For Life

Opinion   |   Rep. Diane Black   |   Mar 1, 2016   |   4:13PM   |   Washington, DC

Wednesday morning, while the pundits and pollsters are still dissecting the results of Super Tuesday, a pivotal moment in the fight for life will begin to take form.  The Supreme Court will hear what may be the most consequential case regarding abortion in a generation:  Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. The decisions of eight justices will have lasting consequences on the health and safety of women and their pre-born children. It is critical that pro-life Americans recognize what is at stake.

At the heart of this case are two provisions in a 2013 Texas state law that, in part, requires abortionists to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and requires abortion clinics to comply with the same standards set for other outpatient surgery centers.

Many of us would call that commonsense, but the plaintiffs in this case have somehow reasoned that it is comparable to “a complete ban on abortion” – a reminder of the kind of hyperbole that the big abortion industry uses to quash even the most basic protections for mothers and their babies.

As the Supreme Court prepares to consider whether Texas’s compassionate law constitutes an “undue burden” for women seeking an abortion, I am reminded of my own heart-wrenching experience with this matter.

Before I came to Congress, I served as a registered nurse. During my time in the emergency room, I cared for a young woman who came to my hospital after undergoing a botched abortion at a clinic that was not properly regulated. When her complications occurred, there was no answer at the after-hours number that she called and by the time she entered my care she was dying and there was nothing that the doctors or I could do to save her.

That young woman lost her precious life; a life that could have been saved if proper regulations were in place to protect her safety and to hold the abortionist accountable. This is what is at stake at the high court.

Sadly, my story is not the only one of its kind. Americans were awakened to the dangers of unregulated abortion clinics on a grander and more sinister scale with the grisly murder trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell in 2013 – which served as the genesis for the Texas law in dispute today.

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Now serving a life sentence, Gosnell was the Philadelphia doctor convicted of killing three infants born alive as a result of incomplete abortions in his infamous “house of horrors” clinic. Gosnell was also found guilty in the death of one of his patients, Karnamaya Mongar, from an anesthetic overdose. As it turned out, the state of Pennsylvania was Gosnell’s co-conspirator; failing to inspect his clinic for 17 years and thus enabling his abuses to continue.

After reviewing the horrific evidence of years of Gosnell’s abuses going unreported and unregulated by the state Department of Health, the Grand Jury in his trial concluded its report with a recommendation that abortion clinics be licensed like outpatient surgery centers, stating “There is no justification for denying abortion patients the protections available to every other patient of an ambulatory surgical facility, and no reason to exempt abortion clinics from meeting these standards.”

Now, as news of Gosnell’s crimes starts to fade from the public conscience, the big abortion lobby seeks to turn back the clock and unravel protections put in place in the aftermath of these heinous crimes to ensure they are never repeated.

While I believe that the life of a pre-born child must be protected, I also believe that we must do everything in our power to protect any woman who decides to have an abortion, even though I may disagree with her choice.

There is no such thing as a safe abortion but we can and should take steps to mitigate the risks of this already emotionally scarring procedure. This is what the state of Texas has done. Women’s advocates should applaud this step, not attempt to erase it.

At its core, this case can be linked to this simple truth: Life is precious – whether it is the life of the child in the womb, or that of the young mother facing an unplanned pregnancy – and it deserves to be protected. The deep pockets of the big abortion industry may feel “burdened” by Texas’s compassionate law, but women are not – they are indeed safer as a result.

LifeNews Note: Congressman Diane Black represents Tennessee’s 6th District and is a member of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus