After Dobbs, Judges are Ruling That States Can Protect Babies From Abortions

Opinion   |   Father Frank Pavone   |   Aug 19, 2022   |   6:31PM   |   Washington, DC

In his order reinstating a North Carolina law that protects babies in the womb from abortion from 20 weeks on, U.S. District Court Judge William Osteen was very clear about the path he followed to his decision: The U.S. Supreme Court’s June 24 decision overturning Roe v. Wade left his 2019 block on the law untenable.

His ruling this week was all but predictable, as was clear in a July 8 order that gave a 30-day deadline for all sides to submit briefs in the matter. It references Dobbs, the case that ended the 50-year-old myth that abortion is a federal constitutional right.

“In light of that holding [Dobbs], it appears the injunctive relief granted in this case may now be contrary to law,” Osteen wrote. “As a result, this court finds the parties should be required to submit briefs setting forth their respective positions on whether the injunction retains any legal force and effect…”

Planned Parenthood of the South Atlantic and several abortionists submitted a brief suggesting the judge was powerless to reopen the case or to lift the injunction on the law. Another brief suggested that because some district attorneys in the state had indicated they would not enforce the law, the judge should leave the block in place to prevent confusion. In other words, kill babies to avoid confusion.

But the judge appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush decided not to be guided by the wishes of the nation’s top abortion seller or the intentions of some pro-abortion state employees to overlook criminal activities. He removed the block.

A Mississippi judge provides another example.

Diane Derzis, the owner of the sole abortion business in Mississippi – the same one at the heart of Dobbs – desperate to keep killing babies in her so-called Pink House in Jackson, sued to keep the state’s trigger law from being enacted.

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The law, passed in 2007, outlaws abortions unless a mother’s life is in danger or the pregnancy was the result of a rape that was reported to law enforcement. It was unenforceable as long as Roe v. Wade was still on the books, and so it was never challenged.

That all changed June 24 when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe. Three days later, Derzis challenged the trigger law, citing a 1998 Mississippi Supreme Court ruling that intuited a right to abortion in the state constitution.

On July 5, Chancery Judge Debbra Halford rejected Derzis’ claim and allowed the 2007 law to be enacted.

“The plain wording of the Mississippi Constitution does not mention abortion,” Halford wrote, adding she doubted the Mississippi Supreme Court would uphold its 1998 ruling in light of the Dobbs case and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overrule Roe.

Derzis sold her Pink House and opened a new abortion business in Las Cruces, New Mexico. But most unborn babies in Mississippi, at least, are safe from abortion.

For every trigger law or other abortion restriction protecting babies in various states, there is at least one lawsuit seeking to block it. But the Mississippi and North Carolina rulings are encouraging to pro-lifers in that Dobbs is working.

Every judge knows that Dobbs has changed the landscape in abortion jurisprudence, at every level. Dobbs is now precedent, both horizontal (affecting future Supreme Court decisions) and vertical (binding lower court judges in ruling on abortion.) And though state courts are, of course, different jurisdictions, the persuasive power of the arguments in Dobbs will be influential.

The Dobbs decision allows legislatures to pass any laws prohibiting or restricting abortion as long as there is a rational basis for those laws and that they are advancing a legitimate interest of the state. Legitimate interests would include, for instance, protecting unborn babies, women’s health, and the integrity of medical profession, eliminating barbaric procedures, protecting unborn babies from pain, and other interests the state may identify. In other words, the door is wide open for legislatures to regulate or prohibit abortion, right from the start of pregnancy.

And that’s exactly what’s happening. Nearly all abortions have been halted in 10 states, with more expected to be enacted in the coming days. Heartbeat laws are in effect in another four states.

Whether it’s in a red state or a blues state, a federal court or a state court, the effects of Dobbs are being felt. Abortion is not a Constitutional right, Roe and Casey can no longer be used as sledgehammers impulsively aimed at pro-life legislation, and defenders of legal abortion have to argue for it on its merits, not hide behind the robes of Supreme Court Justices.

Thanks to Dobbs and to the conservative majority on the Supreme Court, life is winning.