Pro-Life State Laws Endangered by Supreme Court Abortion Ruling

News: US News
by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  •  June 30, 2016   

Numerous pro-life laws set to take effect July 1

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WASHINGTON ( - New pro-life state laws set to take effect Friday may be in danger in light of the Supreme Court's pro-abortion ruling Monday.

In Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, the High Court ruled that a Texas law, which required abortion mills to meet minimum health and safety standards and abortionists to have admitting privileges to local hospitals, unconstitutionally imposed an "undue burden" on women's access to abortion.

A study this spring by Pew Research Center shows the percentage of voters who oppose abortion has remained roughly the same in this country for the past 20 years. Research from the same institute during this period further shows 84 percent of liberal Democrats favor abortion while 70 percent of conservative Republicans reject the slaughter of the unborn.

The fact that so many states are enacting new laws against abortion seems to indicate that abortion is, in fact, a concern of influential people. One fifth of the states have new laws restricting the abortion industry that go into effect July 1, the start of the new fiscal year. The pro-life laws, which vary according to state, would:

  • Restrict the sale of body parts obtained from aborted babies (Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, South Dakota)

  • Defund Planned Parenthood (Florida, Mississippi, Missouri)

  • Ban abortion of babies for race, sex or genetic abnormalities (Indiana)

  • Ban most abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy (South Dakota)

  • Prohibit use of dismemberment abortion in second trimester (Mississippi)

  • Require abortionists to provide referrals for ultrasound and counseling (Idaho)

  • Require hospital admitting privileges for abortionists and health standards for clinics (Florida)

Many of these laws were sparked by public outrage in response to the release last summer of graphic undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood profited from trafficking in body parts of aborted babies.

Elizabeth Nash, spokesperson for the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit group that tracks state policies, remarked, "Typically, in a major election year, we see a decrease in the number of abortion restrictions enacted. But this year, we've seen a bit of an uptick."

Further indication of anti-abortion sentiment in the populace is that most states already have laws restricting aspects of abortion:

  • Require abortionist to be a licensed physician (38 states)

  • Restrict abortions after a certain gestational period (43 states)

  • Ban partial-birth abortion (19 states)

  • Restrict state funding of abortion (32 states)

  • Allow healthcare providers to refuse to participate in abortions (45 states)

  • Allow institutions to refuse to perform abortions (42 states)

  • Mandate pro-life counseling (17 states)

  • Require a waiting period before an abortion (27 states)

  • Require parental involvement for minors seeking abortion (38 states)

These laws may be in danger by what Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas calls "judicial fiat." According to Thomas, this judicial activism was demonstrated by the Supreme Court Monday in Whole Women's Health v. Hellerstedt, where it overturned a 2013 Texas state law requiring that abortionists have admitting privileges at local hospitals and abortion mills meet minimum health and safety requirements.

Justice Thomas wrote in his dissenting opinion, "As the Court applies whatever standard it likes to any given case, nothing but empty words separates our constitutional decisions from judicial fiat."

Presidential hopeful Donald Trump was noticeably silent after the Court's abortion ruling, in spite of attempts to assuage Evangelical conservatives' fears only a week before about his pro-life credentials. Trump has repeatedly said he would appoint pro-life justices to the Supreme Court if he were elected. Given the present age of current justices, some predict up to three judges may retire in the next presidency.

A recent survey by Quinnipiac University shows that pro-life issues rank near the bottom of voters' priorities: Only one percent of voters consider abortion important.

The head of Planned Parenthood is declaring the battle over abortion is just beginning. Calling Monday's Supreme Court ruling "an enormous victory," Cecile Richards vowed to take the fight "state by state" to repeal similar pro-life restrictions.


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