Vitals Reporting on the pro-life movement

Not in Texas anymore

Life | Louisiana’s Supreme Court case could stand where others fell
by Leah Hickman
Posted 3/09/20, 04:31 pm

People on both sides of the abortion debate rallied outside the U.S. Supreme Court on the first Wednesday of this month, much as they did on the first Wednesday of March four years ago. Joe Pojman from the Texas Alliance for Life attended both rallies and said they had striking similarities. Both happened on clear mornings the day after Super Tuesday primaries in presidential election years. And both times, the Supreme Court heard lawsuits over whether abortionists must have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

In the 2016 case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a majority of justices struck down a Texas admitting privileges law as unconstitutional. Abortion supporters say that precedent should apply to a Louisiana law, too.

The Louisiana law is “identical to the Texas law,” said Julie Rikelman, a lawyer for abortion provider June Medical Services. The court ruled the Texas law “imposed an undue burden on women seeking abortions.” If the Louisiana measure took effect, she said, it “would leave Louisiana with just one clinic and one doctor providing abortions.”

Louisiana Solicitor General Elizabeth Murrill, a lawyer for the state, said the cases differ enough that the precedent shouldn’t apply. She pushed back on Rikelman’s assertion that abortionists cannot get admitting privileges, pointing to evidence that shows they can and have in the past. Murrill suggested the regulation would not necessarily lead to a significant decrease in the number of abortionists in the state.

Jeffrey Wall of the U.S. solicitor general’s office argued Louisiana has a greater need for the regulation than Texas did. Unlike in the Whole Woman’s Health case, women have developed complications from abortions at the Louisiana facility that could require medical treatment. One abortionist—the medical director of the Louisiana center that filed suit—has said he has had a patient with a perforated uterus who had to be taken to the hospital. “I’m prepared to concede that it may not happen all that often. I don’t think anybody knows the real rate,” Wall said. “But the point is that it does happen. And when it does, it’s very serious.”

Defense attorneys brought up another question not raised in the Texas case: Do abortionists have the right to sue on behalf of women? Murrill argued abortionists and abortion businesses don’t have this right because their interest in increasing business profits conflicts with the women’s interest in remaining healthy. “The record shows that [the abortionists] do not have a close relationship with their patients, and individual women have litigated abortion cases on their own for decades,” Murrill said. She asked why, if this law puts a burden on women and gives them no medical benefit, aren’t women filing lawsuits against it?

At the pro-life rally outside, Louisiana state Sen. Katrina Jackson, the Democrat who authored the bill, spoke about the issue at the heart of the case: “For so long this nation put the abortion industry before the health and safety of the women. … We seek to hold others accountable.” Speaking to abortionists, she said, “If you accept that woman’s money, you should be qualified and you should do whatever it takes to ensure the best outcome for her.”

Associated Press/Photo by Jonathan Mattise Associated Press/Photo by Jonathan Mattise Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (center) discusses new protections for the unborn at the Tennessee Capitol on Jan. 23.

Across the nation

Tennessee: A bill with wide-ranging protections for the unborn made it through a state Senate committee on Tuesday in a 7-2 vote. The bill would protect unborn babies with a detectable heartbeat and the babies of juveniles in the custody of the Department of Children’s Services. It would also safeguard babies from abortion due to sex, race, or a Down syndrome diagnosis and require physicians to conduct an ultrasound and provide certain information to a woman before aborting her baby.

Ohio: The state Senate voted 21-9 in favor of a bill that would make it a felony to conduct chemically induced abortions via telemedicine. Planned Parenthood prescribes two abortion-inducing pills for women to take from home, a practice pro-life advocates say is unsafe. The bill is headed to the Ohio House.

Mississippi: Abortionists would face 10 years in prison for aborting a child due to race, sex, or genetic abnormality under a Mississippi bill. House Bill 1295 is headed to the state House for debate after passing in a committee on Tuesday.

Kentucky: A state House committee passed two bills tightening the state’s oversight of the abortion industry. HB 451 codifies the attorney general’s authority to prosecute unlawful abortions. HB 370 regulates how unborn infants’ remains should be treated within 10 days of an abortion or miscarriage and bans selling them. —Rachel Lynn Aldrich

Associated Press/Photo by Fernando Vergara Associated Press/Photo by Fernando Vergara Pro-life protesters in front of Colombia’s Constitutional Court in Bogota last week

Colombia says ‘no’ to abortion

The highest court in Colombia decided last week to keep the country’s protections for unborn babies in place. Like many South American countries, Colombia only allows abortion in cases of rape, fetal malformation, or threat to the mother’s life. The question arose when a lawyer, Natalia Bernal, asked the courts to protect all babies from abortion with no exceptions. Abortion supporters took the opportunity to suggest the government allow abortion on demand within the first 16 weeks of gestation. The judges declined to make any changes to the existing law.

Pro-aborts continue trying to chip away at pro-life laws in South America, where the strong influence of the Catholic Church has buttressed legal safeguards for the unborn. In Colombia, polls showed a majority of residents wanted to keep abortion regulations the same. Argentina's president recently said he would send a pro-abortion bill to congress. On Sunday, thousands of people gathered outside Buenos Aires, Argentina, for a pro-life Mass led by the head of the Argentine Catholic bishop’s conference. —Lynde Langdon

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Leah Hickman

Leah is a reporter for WORLD Magazine and WORLD Digital. She is a World Journalism Institute and Hillsdale College graduate. Leah resides in Cleveland, Ohio. Follow her on Twitter @leahmhickman.

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