The U.S. Supreme Court’s latest action in an abortion-related case again has prompted pro-life Americans to wonder whether a majority even exists to protect unborn children and their mothers.
In an order issued Thursday (Feb. 7), the high court blocked enforcement of a Louisiana law to require that an abortion doctor have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans had upheld the 2014 law, which is intended to protect the health and lives of women who suffer complications from abortion.
The action, which four justices opposed, followed by less than two months the Supreme Court’s refusal to review lower court opinions rejecting decisions by Kansas and Louisiana to remove Planned Parenthood as a Medicaid provider. The cases in that Dec. 10 action did not address abortion directly but involved whether Medicaid recipients could challenge a state’s decision on who qualifies as a provider in the government program that helps with health care expenses.
Both actions left pro-life advocates questioning where the court stands on abortion regulations and the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing the procedure after two justices named by President Trump have been added in the last two years.
“We are disappointed this law has been enjoined, but we are hopeful that the state of Louisiana will prevail in the end,” Travis Wussow, general counsel and vice president for public policy of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said in written comments for Baptist Press. “The abortion lobby’s relentless opposition to regulations like these exposes the industry’s drive for profits above all else.
“We will continue to stand for the dignity of all as image bearers of God as we seek to care for the vulnerable,” Wussow said.
Catherine Glenn Foster, president of Americans United for Life, said her organization “is disappointed that a bare majority of [justices] continued to stay the enforcement of a commonsense safety measure that will protect Louisiana’s women from substandard abortion practitioners.”
Two days before the high court’s action, David French — senior writer for National Review and former senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom — said a stay of the Fifth Circuit opinion by the justices would be “quite frankly ominous news for the pro-life movement.”
A stay means a compelling possibility exists that a majority will ultimately decide a lower-court decision was in error.
“If the Court grants the stay, pro-life advocates should be gravely concerned,” French wrote Feb. 5.
The pro-life movement’s hopes are the justices will review and uphold the Fifth Circuit decision. “We look forward to a closer look at the real facts of this case by the Court,” Foster said, “and we’re confident that in doing so, the Justices will vote to uphold it.”
Louisiana’s Unsafe Abortion Protection Act requires a doctor to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic where a procedure is performed. While a federal judge struck down the law, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit reversed the decision in a 2-1 ruling in September. The appeals court denied Jan. 18 a request for a review by all the judges.
An abortion clinic in Shreveport and two unnamed doctors responded by requesting a stay from the Supreme Court.
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Source: Baptist Press