The Supreme Court took the term “abortion distortion” to a new level this week when it ignored its own precedent and rewrote the legal test by which abortion-related laws are evaluated. To put it another way, in order to cram a square peg in a round hole, the Court changed its own rules in order to strike down commonsense safety standards at Texas abortion clinics.
The Lone Star state passed HB2 in 2013, which required abortion physicians to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic to provide continuity of care in case of an emergency. The law also required abortion clinics to meet the same health and safety standards as ambulatory surgical centers. This law was immediately challenged by the abortion industry and went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
On Monday, a majority of the Court ruled in Whole Women’s Health v Hellerstedt that those standards are far too high for abortion clinics to meet, claiming they pose an undue burden on women seeking abortions. In doing so, the Supreme Court put the abortion industry ahead of women’s safety and essentially gave abortion clinics a free pass and exemption from basic health and safety standards that everyone else follows.
What’s almost more troubling than the immediate results for Texas is that the five-justice majority changed the rules by which abortion regulations are evaluated by the courts. They rewrote the “undue burden” test that courts and legislatures have been operating under for decades and took on the role of policymakers from the bench.
The Court’s tendency to change the rules when deciding abortion cases has come to be known as the “abortion distortion.” Justice Clarence Thomas eluded to it when he quoted the late Justice Antonin Scalia in his dissent, “[The majority opinion] exemplifies the Court’s troubling tendency ‘to bend the rules when any effort to limit abortion, or even to speak in opposition to abortion, is at issue.’”
The Supreme Court’s free pass for abortion clinics carves out special rules that apply only to the abortion industry. Arizona abortion activists are already calling for changes to our state laws that are similar to the overturned Texas law.
However, what the local abortion groups do not mention is that the Court’s ruling was very fact specific and doesn’t mean Arizona’s laws will be overturned. We will do everything we can to help protect those statutes and to protect the lives of the preborn and their mothers.
In spite of the bad news this week, we remain encouraged because outside of the four walls of the Supreme Court, the pro-life message is winning. A growing majority of Americans believe abortion is wrong and are not falling for Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry’s lies.
And we have truth on our side. The opinions of five unelected justices do not change the facts: abortion hurts women and ends the life of a preborn child.
Concerned but not in despair. We still have a lot of fight left in us, and CAP will continue to hold up the truth and advocate for Arizona families. We are grateful for those who support us in this battle.
ICYMI – Latest News & Articles of Interest
- For more detail on the Court’s decision in Whole Women’s Health read here.
- Read more about yet another wrongly decided SCOTUS ruling this week on religious freedom pharmacy case, Stormans v. Wiesman here.
- Read this uplifting story showing one example of how the pro-life message is still winning hearts and minds.