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Supreme Court of the United States

3 Things You Should Know About the Abortion Case Before the Supreme Court Today

By Maureen Collins posted on:
March 3, 2020

Does the abortion industry really care about women’s health?

If it did, it would support a law like Louisiana’s Act 620, the Unsafe Abortion Protection Act.

Louisiana lawmakers passed Act 620 after several abortion clinics in the state were found to have violated a laundry list of health and safety practices—everything from failing to sterilize instruments between patients to allowing women to suffer on an operating table when they needed serious medical attention. The Act, which requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at local hospitals, was clearly needed to prevent further harm to women.

But since Act 620 passed in 2014, abortion facilities have been challenging the law in court. Today, oral arguments in this case, June Medical Services v. Russo, have taken  place at the U.S. Supreme Court. This case could have a huge impact on whether abortion providers can challenge health-and-safety laws that protect women.

Here are three things you need to know.

1. Requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges protects women.

State legislators in Louisiana knew that they needed to do something to keep women out of dangerous, sometimes even life-threatening, situations.

Abortion providers in the state had been cited for having unclean facilities, reusing single-use equipment, and even allowing unqualified staff members to assist with abortions. Many abortion facilities weren’t properly screening the doctors they hired. In one case, an abortion facility even hired an eye doctor to perform abortions.

So, lawmakers passed Act 620 to require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. This does two important things.

1) Screening for competence. To obtain admitting privileges, doctors are screened by hospitals for competence and a clean track record. This helps ensure that they are properly vetted and have the appropriate skills and knowledge, including a history free from substandard care.

2) Continuity of care. This ensures that women undergoing abortions have a continuity of care. In an emergency, a doctor can directly admit a woman undergoing an abortion to the hospital where he has admitting privileges, relay critical information, and continue treating her appropriately.

Louisiana’s Act 620 is common sense. And on top of that, Louisiana law requires doctors at other ambulatory surgical centers to have admitting privileges—so why should doctors who perform abortions get a pass?

2. Louisiana’s law could have helped real women.

For years, women in Louisiana were put in harm’s way by abortion facilities that did not properly vet their staff and doctors. One woman, Brenda J., was left on an operating table for nearly eight hours as she lost more and more blood. Finally, the abortion doctor had a staff member take Brenda to the hospital—not in an ambulance, but in the staff member’s own car.

Once Brenda arrived at the hospital, emergency doctors failed to effectively diagnose her bleeding because they had no idea that she suffered the complication from an abortion procedure. Because of this, Brenda ultimately lost her ability to have children.

If Act 620 had been in place, it could have spared Brenda this traumatic experience, because the abortion provider would have been able to transmit the critical information to the hospital – or, given his dubious track record and the likelihood he wouldn’t qualify for admitting privileges, he would’ve been prohibited from performing the botched abortion in the first place. And Brenda isn’t the only one. Two other women, who go by the names D.C. and Audrey, went through similar experiences.

This is one factor that differentiates this case from Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. In that case, the Supreme Court relied on general medical evidence and studies to strike down a Texas law requiring admitting privileges. Unlike June Medical, the record didn’t contain real-life examples of women who would have been helped by Texas’s law.

But when the Supreme Court hears June Medical Services, it won’t have to guess if women might be helped by Louisiana’s law. It can take for certain that women like Brenda, Audrey, and D.C. would have been helped by Act 620 and suffered greatly in its absence. 

3. The abortion industry doesn’t speak for women.

For years, the abortion industry has hijacked women’s interests to challenge laws that protect women’s health and safety. This is what happened in Whole Woman’s Health.

Planned Parenthood and other abortion businesses have claimed that they have the authority to challenge abortion regulations because they represent women’s abortion rights. But there is one problem with this: They have a huge conflict of interest.

Abortion providers challenging a law that protects women’s health and safety, on behalf of women, is like an employer with a hazardous worksite challenging a law about workplace safety on behalf of employees. It just doesn’t make sense! And in non-abortion contexts, courts don’t allow this.

If these abortion facilities were actually concerned about the health and safety of women, they would welcome safeguards like the ones in Act 620. Instead, they’ve gone to great lengths to challenge this law.

Now, the Supreme Court has an opportunity to end the practice of the abortion industry pretending to speak for women in court. And it should. Women can stand up for their own interests and speak for their own rights in court.

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Maureen Collins

Maureen Collins

Digital Cultivation Manager

Maureen Collins serves as the Digital Cultivation Manager at Alliance Defending Freedom.

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