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Pro-life advocates say ruling puts clinic profits over women's health

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WASHINGTON — Many of the country's leading pro-life advocates said the U.S. Supreme Court's June 29 ruling striking down a Louisiana abortion law puts women's health in danger, allows subpar care of women and gives abortion clinics a pass on "commonsense regulations" for "the sake of profit."


"Women were dealt a huge blow in today's ruling from the Supreme Court," said Abby Johnson, who used to be the director of a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Texas and currently leads the group And Then There Were None, which she founded.


"By deciding that abortion doctors and clinics need to follow a separate, less stringent set of rules than every other medical facility leaves women open to the consequences of an industry that has mastered cutting corners on health care," said Johnson, whose organization assists abortion workers in leaving the abortion industry.


"Women will continue to get subpar care at abortion clinics because of this Supreme Court ruling," Johnson said in a statement. "It's not a victory for women, for access, for equality, like the abortion industry will say today. The back alley abortions that the industry thinks will happen if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned may very well become commonplace inside abortion clinics due to the lack of commonsense regulations that this case just dismantled."


In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional Louisiana's 2014 Unsafe Abortion Protection Act requiring that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.


Justice Stephen Breyer, who wrote the majority opinion in the case, June Medical Services v. Russo, said the law posed a "substantial obstacle" for women seeking abortions while providing "no significant health-related benefits."


Breyer was joined in the opinion by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Chief Justice John Roberts filed an opinion concurring in the judgment of the four justices. In his dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas said the court's decision "perpetuates its ill-founded abortion jurisprudence by enjoining a perfectly legitimate state law and doing so without jurisdiction."


In a June 29 statement, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities, said, "The court's failure to recognize the legitimacy of laws prioritizing women's health and safety over abortion business interests continues a cruel precedent. Even as we seek to end the brutality of legalized abortion, we still believe that the women who seek it should not be further harmed and abused by a callous, profit-driven industry," he added.


The archbishop also urged "people of faith to pray for women seeking abortion, often under enormous pressure, that they will find alternatives that truly value them and the lives of their children."


As a result of the ruling, pro-life advocates believe abortion clinics around the country will continue to cut corners on health care for women — which was the concern that led Louisiana state Sen. Katrina Jackson, a pro-life Democrat, to write the bill when she was a state representative.


Jackson said in a statement after the Supreme Court issued its ruling that one of the reasons she wrote the measure was the fact that in Louisiana, when a man chooses to go an outpatient surgical center, ambulatory surgical center and have a vasectomy, that physician is required to have admitting privileges. But not so for abortion clinics. The law passed with a bipartisan vote.


"As you know, in Louisiana, radiologists and ophthalmologists have performed abortions," said Jackson.


"The March for Life is appalled by the Supreme Court's decision today, which failed to hold Louisiana abortion facilities accountable for their numerous health and safety violations," Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, said in a June 29 statement. "The legislation at issue in June Medical Services v. Russo was designed to safeguard women's health and safety, which the abortion business in Louisiana egregiously sidelined for the sake of profit."


"No abortion facility should receive a free pass to provide substandard care," she added. "This decision underscores the importance of nominating and confirming judges who refrain from legislating from the bench, something pro-life voters will certainly remember come November."


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020