What You Need to Know About Tomorrow’s Supreme Court Abortion Case

Botched abortions. Filthy medical instruments. Unlicensed staff administering controlled substances.

These are some of the frightening practices that have pervaded abortion facilities across Louisiana. Women deserve to be safe from negligent practices like this. But in Louisiana, patients weren’t sufficiently protected—some of them paid a terrible price.

Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear a case called June Medical Services v. Russo that will decide if a Louisiana law addressing these problems will be upheld.

A Heartbreaking Story

One woman named Brenda J. went to a Louisiana abortion facility to get an abortion. During the procedure, the abortion practitioner perforated her uterus and left her bleeding on the operating table for over seven hours. The abortion practitioner finally sent Brenda to the hospital, but he didn’t call an ambulance. He had a staff member take Brenda in their car and instructed the staff member to lie to the hospital about what had happened.

As a result, the doctors and staff at the hospital did not know Brenda was suffering from a botched abortion procedure, so they didn’t know how to properly treat her. Days later, they found Brenda’s baby’s skull in her uterus. The doctors treated Brenda as best they could and they were able to save Brenda’s life—but not her torn, infected uterus. Because of the abortion practitioner’s decision to prioritize his reputation and convenience over Brenda’s life, Brenda was left infertile.

Several Louisiana women have stories like Brenda’s, and Louisiana legislators realized they had a dangerous health and safety issue on their hands. So, in 2014, the legislature passed Act 620, the Unsafe Abortion Protection Act, to protect women from incompetent abortion practitioners. The bill passed with strong bipartisan support, with a vote of 88-5 in the House and 34-3 in the Senate.

Forcing Taxpayers to Fund Abortion? Where’s the “Choice” in That?

The rhetoric of the pro-choice position has long been a hands-off approach to abortion, arguing that every individual should be able to do as they please in regards to abortion. Pro-choice advocates have long criticized pro-lifers for “forcing their morality” on other people.

Interestingly, the pro-choice movement is now advocating what it has long condemned — imposing their beliefs on other people. They are seeking to do this by requiring taxpayers to directly fund abortion. For the pro-choice movement, supporting abortion is no longer an option that one may voluntarily choose, but one they wish to force everyone to support. Ironically, there is no “choice” involved here.

One way to demonstrate the error in this logic is to present a hypothetical scenario that substitutes the unborn child with a toddler. Pro-choice advocates generally agree that killing a toddler is never a moral or legal way to reduce suffering, even if the child is not loved or cared for. By demonstrating that toddlers and unborn children are both morally equivalent, we can make a case for why killing an unborn child should be considered as immoral as killing a toddler.

Kansas Bombshell Shows Why State Constitutions Matter

The Kansas Supreme Court dropped a controversial 6-1 decision that overturned a state abortion restriction and cemented a right to abortion into the Kansas Constitution. This prevents Kansas from enacting any further abortion restrictions for the time being; however, there is still a way for the pro-life people of Kansas to find a way out of this situation.

Kansas Judicial Center building.

Kansas Judicial Center building. CC Image courtesy of A.D. Modlin on Flickr.

In 2015, Kansas passed a law banning Dilation and Evacuation abortions, otherwise known as D&E procedures or dismemberment abortions. The procedure is performed for most second trimester abortions, and this state law was among the first of its kind in the post-Roe era. After the law was struck down by a Kansas district court in 2015, the state appealed to the Kansas Court of Appeals, which issued a 7-7 split decision in 2016, failing to reach the majority necessary to overturn the lower court’s decision. The state of Kansas appealed once again, this time to the Kansas Supreme Court, which delivered a disappointing 6-1 decision to strike down the law.

The court’s decision was rooted in Section 1 of the Kansas Bill of Rights, which reads:

Equal rights. All men are possessed of equal and inalienable natural rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Section 1 of the Kansas Bill of Rights is similar to the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Bill of Rights, which has often been interpreted to preserve “fundamental rights” such as the right to send your child to a Christian school and the right for schools to teach foreign languages.

However, this protection of unenumerated rights is a double-edged sword, as the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the right to abortion was also a “fundamental” and “inalienable” right protected by Section 1 of the Kansas Bill of Rights. The court stated:

Section 1 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights affords protection of the right of personal autonomy, which includes the ability to control one’s own body, to assert bodily integrity, and to exercise self-determination. This right allows a woman to make her own decisions regarding her body, health, family formation, and family life — decisions that can include whether to continue a pregnancy.

As discussed in my recent article Pro-Choice Doesn’t Have to Mean Pro-Roe, the overturning of Roe v. Wade would allow all states to make their own abortion restrictions. Because of this decision from the Kansas Supreme Court, the state of Kansas would not be able to pass any additional abortion restrictions even if Roe was overturned, as the Kansas Supreme Court’s decision is binding within the state. Now, if Kansans want to nullify the court’s decision, they will need to pass an amendment to the Kansas Constitution protecting the right to life for unborn children.

Roe’s Savior: The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)

The Equal Rights Amendment is one of the most polarizing topics in American politics. Ostensibly, the purpose of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is to ensure that men and women are guaranteed the same rights by law. The core text of the ERA is short and simple:

Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

Picture: The United States Senate chamber where the ERA will be debated.

United States Senate chamber. Public domain image.

The text alone doesn’t seem harmful. If interpreted properly, it could be helpful, as it is obviously wrong to unfairly discriminate against women. Unfortunately, rather than addressing legitimate discrimination grievances, this clause has instead been interpreted as granting a right to abortion. Pro-choice advocates are using the ERA as a Trojan horse to sneak the right to abortion into the U.S. Constitution under the guise of “gender equality.” [Tweet that!]

Adding an amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires two things: Congress must pass the amendment, and 38 states must ratify (pass) it. After Congress passed the ERA in 1972, the states had 10 years to meet this ratification quota. 35 states ratified the ERA within five years, and the amendment was initially very popular. However, this popularity was present because many states did not believe abortion to be a “right’ protected in the ERA, as Roe v. Wade had not been decided yet when the ERA passed. Consequently, five states rescinded their ratification in the years following Roe. The Constitution does not specify whether a state may rescind its ratification of an amendment, and the Supreme Court will likely have to make a ruling on this, which could be a long and controversial process.

As of now, 37 states have ratified the ERA at some point in time. The initial ten-year ratification deadline has expired; however, if one more state ratifies the ERA, the amendment could still be added to the U.S. Constitution if it is passed by Congress again. While the current Republican majority in the Senate would likely block the ERA, this is not a long-term solution. Pro-choice Democrats who support the ERA will almost certainly regain both chambers of Congress eventually, so if a 38th state ratifies it and the Supreme Court determines all of those ratifications to be valid, it will only be a matter of time until the ERA becomes the next amendment in the U.S. Constitution.

California Reintroduces Campus Abortion Bill

Picture: California State Senate Chambers

California State Senate Chambers

Last year, California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed SB 320, a bill that would have required every public university in the state to provide abortion pills. Unfortunately, California is trying to pass this legislation once again, and it has been reintroduced in the new legislative session as SB 24. Advocates of the bill have also called it the “College Student Right to Access Act.”

In his veto, Gov. Brown briefly explained why he opposed the bill, stating abortion was a “long-protected right” in California but that forcing universities to offer abortion pills was “not necessary” because there are already abortion clinics within five to seven miles of most campuses.

While I am thankful that Gov. Brown vetoed this bill, I certainly don’t agree with his logic for doing so. The ability to kill human life should never be referred to as a right, and turning campus health centers into abortion providers is a terrible idea regardless of whether an abortion clinic is near campus or not. Brown essentially states that women should have an abortion center within a certain radius of their place of living, and he only vetoed the bill because that circumstance already exists. Brown expressed no concern in his veto for how campus abortions would be dangerous for pregnant mothers or lethal for innocent unborn babies.

According to NPR, implementing SB 320 would have cost an estimated $14 million and several pro-choice organizations agreed to cover this cost. However, the bill is written to allow the expenses to be covered by other means as well, and nothing in the bill restricts student health fees from being allocated towards medical abortion procedures. This loophole has the potential to allow the state to force pro-life college students to pay for the abortions of other students on campus through obligatory student fees. This subsidized system, if put in place, would violate the consciences of students opposed to abortion.