NRL News

As day for Supreme Court decision approaches, “June Medical Services v. Russo” in historical context

by | Jun 15, 2020

By Dave Andrusko, 

State Rep. Katrina Jackson and the Executive Director of Louisiana Right to Life Benjamin Clapper

We, of course, don’t know the exact date, but it won’t be long before the Supreme Court hands down its decision in June Medical Services v. Russo, the end result of a challenge to Louisiana’s 2014  “Unsafe Abortion Protection Act.” As Louisiana Right to Life explained, there existed a “loophole” to the requirement that every physician at all outpatient surgical facilities have admitting privileges at a local hospital. 

“These hospital privileges are common-sense safety protections to ensure that when an emergency happens at an outpatient facility, the physician can handle the complication without any delay by having the patient admitted to a local hospital and following up her care there. No matter how frequently complications occur, these protections are standard and should be universal across all outpatient surgical settings.”

The loophole were abortion facilities. “In 2014, then State Rep. (now State Senator) Katrina Jackson (D-Monroe), together with Louisiana Right to Life, filed the Unsafe Abortion Protection Act to close this loophole and put abortion facilities on the same safety standards level as all other outpatient surgical facilities,” explained Louisiana Right to Life. “Legislative testimony focused on the dangerous history of Louisiana abortion facilities, the common-sense nature of admitting privileges through the words of doctors, and personal testimony of women hurt physically and emotionally by abortion.”

Roe v. Wade was dropped on an unsuspecting American public 17,311 days ago, but our Movement continues its relentless campaign to return legal protection to unborn children and protect their mothers from the Abortion Industry. This tireless, creative, faithful effort–as demonstrated by June Medical Services v. Russo — is evidence of the work product of a growing Movement.

Think about that in light of what the New York Times editorialized wrote two days after the January 22, 1973, Roe v. Wade decision was delivered: The 7-2 decision “could bring to an end the emotional and divisive public argument.” 

Quickly warming to its self-appointed task, the editorial declared Roe (and its pivotal but unmentioned companion, Doe v. Bolton) “will end the argument if those who are now inveighing against the decision as a threat to civilization’s survival will pause long enough to recognize the limits of what the Court has done.”

Translated. If only those bothersome pro-lifers would just fold up their tents and go home, this silly argument over abortion will blow over like dust in the wind.

That gross misstatement of Roe’s/Doe’s scope established the template that still exists in large measure. Let’s just pretend that Justice Harry Blackmun’s decision hadn’t gutted the abortion laws of all 50 states, some very protective, others virtually allowing abortion on demand.

But, contrary to the Times’ hectoring assurances, the foundations of the abortion regime established over 47 years remain inherently unstable because they were — and remain— so wildly out of sync with public opinion.

The irony is that even “pro-choice” scholars knew how slip-shod Blackmun’s opinion was. In 2005, for example, Benjamin Wittes wrote, “In the years since the decision an enormous body of academic literature has tried to put the right to an abortion on firmer legal ground. But thousands of pages of scholarship notwithstanding, the right to abortion remains constitutionally shaky. … [Roe] is a lousy opinion that disenfranchised millions of conservatives on an issue about which they care deeply.”

Irony Number 2: As recent scholarly works have demonstrated, in its earliest years the pro-life movement was filled with liberal Democrats. A commitment to protecting the vulnerable and the powerless was the reason at one time I was up to my elbows in Democrat Party politics. Alas, when adherence to abortion on demand, for any reason or none—and becoming soft on infanticide as well– became a litmus test, virtually all liberal Democrats chose party over principle.

But at the same time the Democrat Party’s diversity has vanished,  the Pro-Life Movement is wider, deeper, and broader than ever. The range includes everything from non-sectarian organizations such as National Right to Life  to Feminists for Life to Secular Pro-Life and everything in between. 

That is the genius of the pro-life cause and the source of its amazing staying power: You can oppose killing unborn babies for a host of reasons. Pigeon-holing the pro-life movement as “right-wing” or Christian-only will never end; it will just grow even more foolish.

Legislation and education are NRLC’s  specialties, along with ensuring that pro-life legislators get elected to pass protective laws and stymie pro-death legislation. Interestingly, even Gallup conceded that the debate in the 1990s over partial-birth abortions changed the trajectory of the abortion debate. Pro-lifers are convinced the ongoing debates over banning the abortions of pain-capable children, the dismemberment of living unborn children, and the grotesquely discriminatory execution of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome will have no less an impact. 

NRLC believes this will help reveal a truth buried for decades: A majority of Americans oppose — and always have — the reasons 90%-95 % of all abortions are performed.

All this support in spite of mainstream media that is so utterly (and unashamedly) hostile to our cause. One of the exceptions is Pulitzer Prize—winner Paul Greenberg, who edited the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette editorial page for many years.

He once wrote, “The right to life must come first or all the others can never take root, much less flourish. As in the Declaration of Independence’s order of certain unalienable rights, among them ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ Note which one is mentioned first. And for good, logical reason.”

The movement toward life and away from death is inexorable. Remember that the next time someone pretends it is pro-lifers who are the outliers.

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Categories: Supreme Court