By now you know that earlier this week, Governor Kasich made a momentous decision on two pieces of pro-life legislation. He signed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, while vetoing the Heartbeat Bill.
As the internet descends into name-calling and tragic ad-hominems, we wanted to share with you some thoughts that might raise the level of conversation for the pro-life movement.
The first is that we are grateful that Governor Kasich has chosen to enact a law that presents the Supreme Court with a pre-viability protection for the unborn. This truly is historic because, as you know, Roe v. Wade has barred states from doing this for the last 44 years. As of Tuesday night, Ohio now stands outside the bounds of Roe v. Wade, defying a decades-old precedent that has resulted in 60 million deaths.
The second thought we wanted to share relates to the Heartbeat Bill. Many of you are well aware of the history of this legislation, but for those who aren’t familiar with the most immediate history, it is absolutely critical to understanding why Ohio Right to Life remained neutral on this bill. This year alone—with the great Justice Antonin Scalia serving—the Supreme Court rejected the opportunity to hear the Heartbeat Bill. As a result, the Heartbeat Bill remains overturned, unable to save one human life from the suctions and curettes of the abortion industry anywhere in the United States.
The only thing that has changed in the last year with regards to the Supreme Court is the tragic passing of Justice Scalia. At this time, the pro-life movement would face a 5-3 loss on Heartbeat, with Justice Anthony Kennedy (the same justice who wrote the opinion enshrining same-sex marriage as a “right”) likely deciding against it. Even with a pro-life appointment by President-Elect Trump, we would still stand at a 5-4 loss. If any liberal justice passes or retires during Trump’s presidency, we will surely see the Court turn in our favor. But we refuse to put the cart before the horse.
Why? Because to the Supreme Court, precedent matters. Tremendously. Stare decisis (Latin for “let the decision stand”) remains a powerful doctrine in the Supreme Court. It demands that the Court do all that it can to uphold precedent (i.e. Roe) in rendering its decisions. Oddly enough, the only times in the last few years when the Supreme Court has thrown caution to stare decisis and authored radically new decisions has been to uphold wildly liberal policies, to include the disastrous Obamacare and same-sex marriage.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg has publicly stated that she is itching for the opportunity to write a decision that is worse than Roe v. Wade. Ohio Right to Life is loath to give her that opportunity.
This doesn’t mean that we aren’t trying to fight the horrors of Roe. In fact, we have been fighting tooth and nail to give the Supreme Court the right case to erode the archaic framework of Roe for years. Pain-Capable does just that. It draws from language that Anthony Kennedy himself has used in previous decisions. Our arguments have been tailored to his interests, to include international law and his concern with the brutality of second trimester abortions. It presents the Court with a new compelling state interest for protecting the unborn.
Though our legal analysis has concluded that, sadly, the Heartbeat Bill will curry no favor with SCOTUS, Ohio Right to Life has remained neutral on the bill. Multiple groups—including those who remain affiliated with Ohio Right to Life—have indicated otherwise, and we must say that this is truly a disservice to the movement. Our team has had multiple national interviews in the last week in which we have highlighted the pros and cons of the Heartbeat Bill, insisting on EWTN Nightly News that we agree philosophically with the Heartbeat Bill, even if we can’t endorse it.
Now as we look ahead to 2017, Ohio Right to Life is preparing for a new aggressive legislative agenda. The work of the pro-life movement does not stop at “pain” or “heartbeat” or perhaps even conception. The work of the pro-life movement will always be necessary because we live in a broken world and it is our duty to continue to raise the bar for all of humanity.
If you have questions, thoughts or concerns that you would like to talk through with our staff, please know that our phone lines are open and we are eager to hear from you. The pro-life movement must remain united, even if strategic differences emerge.
We thank you for your persistence in the fight for life and for your prayerful support for the lives of the unborn.
LifeNews Note: Devin Scribner is the executive director of Ohio Right to Life.