Though pro-lifers mourned another loss at the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday in the fight to protect unborn babies and mothers, many found hope in the fact that both of President Donald Trump’s nominees rejected the majority opinion.
Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh dissented in June Medical Services v. Russo. The case involved a Louisiana law that requires abortionists to have hospital admitting privileges so that they can treat patients with potentially life-threatening complications.
On Monday, the four liberal justices and Chief Justice John Roberts decided that the law imposes an “undue burden” on women’s right to abortion. Roberts’ ruling was a huge disappointment for pro-life advocates. Many believed Roberts, a nominee of Republican President George W. Bush, would at least agree to uphold the modest abortion regulation for the sake of women’s health and safety, but he did not.
But pro-life leaders were happy with how Trump’s two choices ruled in the matter.
“We are pleased that the two Justices appointed by President Trump voted to protect women and to uphold the Louisiana pro-life law,” said James Bopp, general counsel for National Right to Life.
Gorsuch wrote a strong, critical dissent of the majority opinion, slamming the justices for ignoring “an array of rules” that keep the judiciary branch in check.
The rules make “sure that we are in the business of saying what the law is, not what we wish it to be,” Gorsuch wrote in his dissent. “Today’s decision doesn’t just overlook one of these rules. It overlooks one after another.”
At length, he listed Louisiana’s concerns for women’s health, including dozens of health and safety violations at abortion facilities, botched abortions, and new evidence suggesting abortion facilities may not have reported the rape of a young girl to authorities.
“At least one Louisiana abortion provider’s loss of admitting privileges following a patient’s death alerted the state licensing board to questions about his competence, and ultimately resulted in restrictions on his practice,” he wrote.
Gorsuch said Louisiana lawmakers had good reasons to pass the admitting privileges law. He said they heard testimony from women and emergency room physicians about abortion practitioners’ record of abandoning their patients.
One woman told lawmakers that the abortionist kicked her out while she was hemorrhaging, saying: “You’re on your own. Get out.” Later, at a hospital, an emergency room doctor found body parts from her aborted baby still inside her womb, according to the ruling. Another woman who complained of severe pain after her abortion said she was told to go home. But when she went to the emergency room, she said they found a tear in her uterus and “a large hematoma containing a fetal head.”
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Gorsuch also pointed to new evidence of potential criminal conduct by Louisiana abortionists, including failing to report the rape of a minor and performing an abortion on a minor without parental consent.
He criticized the majority justices for “overlooking so many facts,” including the question of if abortion groups even have standing to sue on behalf of “an undefined, unnamed, indeed unknown, group of women who they hope will be their patients in the future.”
He hinted at the other justices’ hypocrisy, writing, “this Court has held that a pediatrician lacks standing to defend a State’s abortion laws on the theory that fetuses are his potential patients. If standing isn’t present in cases like those, it is hard to see how it might be present in this one.”
Gorsuch said the majority justices “brushed aside” the rules and “took shortcuts” to make their ruling.
“The real question we face concerns our willingness to follow the traditional constraints of the judicial process when a case touching on abortion enters the courtroom,” he wrote.
Kavanaugh also wrote a short dissent, arguing that the court should have remanded the case back to the lower court for a new trial and additional factfinding.
Pro-life leaders praised the four justices who dissented in the case, including Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, and emphasized the importance of re-electing Trump in November.
“The Supreme Court needs more justices willing to take a fresh look at Roe like those appointed by President Donald Trump,” said Joe Pojman of Texas Alliance for Life. “Our organization will continue to urge voters to re-elect President Trump.”
Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser also emphasized the vital importance of electing pro-life U.S. Senators to confirm good judicial nominees to the courts.
“Today’s ruling reinforces just how important Supreme Court judges are to advancing the pro-life cause. It is imperative that we re-elect President Trump and our pro-life majority in the U.S. Senate so we can further restore the judiciary, most especially the Supreme Court,” she said.
And if Joe Biden wins, Dannenfelser said it would be disastrous for the future of unborn babies.
“Joe Biden, who has abandoned babies in the womb he once voted to protect, vows to stack the Court with abortion extremists,” she said.
Several of the justices are getting older, including liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and may retire within the next four years, meaning whoever wins in November may have the chance to appoint one or two new justices to the high court.