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Judge vacates ruling on who may perform abortions in Virginia

U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson vacated his May 6 ruling on Falls Church Medical Center v. Oliver, which would have allowed non-physicians to perform first- and second-trimester abortions. The question of whether non-doctors can perform abortions and other issues related to the case will be decided at trial May 20.


“We continue to hope that the common-sense health and safety regulations enacted by the Virginia General Assembly to protect women in our state will not be struck down,” said the Virginia Catholic Conference in a May 15 statement regarding the case. “We urge Catholics and all people of good will to remain prayerful and engaged in the face of the extreme abortion agenda being imposed on our commonwealth.”


In the aftermath of the original ruling, Virginia Bishops Michael F. Burbidge and Barry C. Knestout criticized the court decision that ruled in favor of abortion providers who say current Virginia law hinders their ability to perform abortions.


The bishops wrote:


“On May 6, laws enacted by the people of Virginia were undermined when a U.S. district court decision further advanced the extreme agenda of the abortion industry and placed Virginia’s women at ever greater risk of harm from surgical abortion.


“In Falls Church Medical Center v. Oliver, U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson’s decision now allows non-physicians to perform first trimester abortions in Virginia. Judge Hudson’s May 6, 2019, summary judgment opinion goes beyond Roe v. Wade and reveals the extreme measures that are being taken by pro-abortion groups to eliminate even common-sense restrictions on abortion.


“The case is still in progress, as several other counts that seek to expand ‘abortion rights’ remain undecided. This disappointing and legally questionable decision is another example of why we must all remain vigilant and mobilized as the extreme abortion agenda continues to be advanced in Virginia.”


Several abortion-providing facilities and entities, including Falls Church Medical Center and Virginia League Planned Parenthood, sued the commonwealth for regulations that “pose a substantial obstacle to the availability of abortion services for Virginia women, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.” According to the ruling, during the trial, the plaintiffs, or abortion providers, offered testimony that a surgical abortion is a safe medical procedure that can be performed by non-doctors, such as nurse practitioners, even in the second trimester. Defendants argued that abortion is safest when performed by a doctor in a hospital setting.


“This is a continuation of the extreme abortion agenda we saw introduced at the General Assembly earlier this year,” said Amy McInerny, director of Respect Life. “Women deserve better.”

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019