It is difficult to take abortion activists seriously when they claim to protect women’s health and then fight against laws that require abortion facilities to meet basic health and safety standards.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments about those safety requirements and whether they violate a women’s access to abortion.
The 2014 Louisiana law at the center of the case requires abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges to treat patients with emergency complications. If allowed to take effect, it could close shoddy abortion facilities that are not prepared to help patients suffering from emergency complications.
There also is evidence that the abortion facility at the center of the case may be guilty of covering up the sexual abuse of young girls.
But, as News Radio 560KPQ reports, abortion activists suing in June Medical Services v. Russo (previously v. Gee) claim the law is an “undue burden” on access to abortion. The abortion facility Hope Medical Group for Women and the Center for Reproductive Rights are suing to overturn it.
The state, with backing from the Trump administration and scores of anti-abortion groups, contends the law is aimed at improving health and safety measures at abortion clinics. “We shouldn’t be substituting safety for access,” [said Louisiana Solicitor General Elizabeth Murrill, who will argue the case Wednesday.]
But Julie Rikelman of the Center for Reproductive Rights, who will argue the other side Wednesday, says hospital privileges are elusive for physicians who provide abortions and unnecessary when just one in 400 patients needs hospitalization.
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The court also will consider a second important issue in the case: whether abortion clinics have standing to sue on behalf of their patients. Often, it is abortion businesses, not women, who sue to overturn pro-life informed consent laws, health and safety regulations and other laws to protect unborn babies from abortion.
Louisiana state attorneys told the court: “There is little evidence that their patients’ interests actually align with Plaintiffs’ position that the burdens of such protections exceed their value. On the contrary, undisputed record evidence (including of Plaintiffs’ poor safety record, inadequate credentialing practices, and questionable efforts to undermine the law at issue) shows Plaintiffs are directly adverse to their patients’ interests. It is hard to imagine a worse case for third-party standing.”
Louisiana state lawyers … alleged a “serious conflict of interest” between what’s good for the doctors and what’s good for their patients.
“The doctors perform very brief procedures on drugged patients whom they never saw before and will never see again,” the state’s lawyers said. Yet in court, they “challenge a Louisiana health statute designed to protect those very patients from unscrupulous and incompetent abortion providers.”
Legal experts were taken aback by the court’s willingness to consider the standing of doctors and clinics to bring lawsuits.
“Taking the standing question was a bombshell,” said Mary Ziegler, a Florida State University law professor who has written on the history of abortion. “This is a part of the reversal strategy on the antiabortion side. They want to argue that abortion is unsafe, that it hurts women and that abortion providers are in it for profit. And practically, it could make it much more complicated to bring lawsuits” to challenge abortion laws, she said.
In November, the Louisiana Department of Justice announced suspicions about alleged criminal activity that may have happened at the Hope Medical Group. It accused the abortion facility of hiding evidence of criminal and professional misconduct from the U.S. Supreme Court. The state asked the Fifth Circuit to unseal documents in the closely-watched case.
A few weeks later, a Fifth Circuit ruling suggested one abortionist in the state may be performing abortions that lead to second-trimester babies being born alive.
The shocking revelations are reminiscent of the horrors that were uncovered at a Philadelphia abortion facility nearly a decade ago. Abortionist Kermit Gosnell later was convicted of murdering three newborn babies, putting women’s lives at risk and numerous other crimes at his “house of horrors” abortion facility.
The Gosnell horrors were a key reason why Louisiana and other states passed abortion clinic regulations such as the one currently at issue before the U.S. Supreme Court. Gosnell got away with his gristly, murderous abortion practice for years because of Pennsylvania’s lack of abortion clinic regulations.
Both pro-life and abortion activists are watching the case closely to see how the conservative-majority court will rule. This will be the first abortion case before President Donald Trump’s appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
The case will be a good indication of where Chief Justice John Roberts stands on abortion jurisprudence. Last year, Roberts voted with the four liberal justices to block the enforcement of the Louisiana law. However, in 2016, he sided with the conservative justices on the court to uphold a similar Texas law.
Oral arguments are scheduled for Wednesday, and the high court likely will rule on the case in June.