More than four decades into the Roe v. Wade era, the struggle to defend life in the womb shows no sign of abating – indeed the last few weeks have seen a surge of crucial legal activity, some of it disappointing and discouraging, some of it cause for great hope.
The discouragements you’re well aware of by now. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on June 27th to invalidate a Texas law that tried to secure the most basic health and safety provisions for women at abortion facilities was a heartbreaking affirmation of the Planned Parenthood model that cares less for the patient than for profit.
That abortion powerhouse – which has built its extraordinary profits on its ability to facilitate the murder of millions of children at minimal expense – has fought tooth and nail against laws being enacted nationwide that would require their facilities to meet the same health and safety standards as ambulatory surgical centers, and ensure quick access for patients to local hospitals in the event of post-abortion complications. The Court’s decision frees Planned Parenthood and its allies from those standards, and so from the responsibility for the lives and health of the women whose children they kill.
“Safe, legal, and rare” – the patented phrase of the pro-abortion advocates – has been reduced to one out of three.
The Supreme Court followed up that sad decision on June 28th with a refusal to hear the case of the Stormans family of Olympia, Washington – pharmacy owners being compelled by the state to sell abortion pills, over the family’s faith-based objections and despite the easy availability of the drugs from dozens of other nearby pharmacies.
Opposition to the state’s legal browbeating – which has specifically targeted the Stormans on behalf of pro-abortion advocates – has been nearly unanimous including 43 members of Congress, 13 states, 29 legal scholars, more than 4,600 individual health care professionals, and 38 professional pharmacy associations. The Court’s decision not to hear the case is, as Justice Samuel Alito pointed out in his powerful dissent from the ruling “an ominous sign” for religious freedom.
But not all the news for those defending life has been bad. On June 22, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit ruled that a city-run bus company in Fort Wayne, Indiana violated the constitution by refusing to accept an ad from Women’s Health Link, a life-affirming health care referral service for women.
City officials said the ad was too “controversial”; the copy on the ad simply said, “You are not alone” and offered a phone number for women seeking “health care.” The appellate court rightly described the ad as “a public service announcement that does not so much as hint at advocating or endorsing any political, moral, or religious position.”
That same day, a federal court ruled that a lawsuit filed by Alliance Defending Freedom on behalf of Sue Thayer, a former Iowa Planned Parenthood clinic director, could go forward. The lawsuit alleges that Planned Parenthood submitted “repeated false, fraudulent, and/or ineligible claims for reimbursements” to Medicaid and failed to meet acceptable standards of medical practice.
On June 20th, a federal court declined a request by California officials to dismiss a lawsuit by Skyline Wesleyan Church challenging state efforts to force churches to pay for elective abortions in their health insurance plans.
“The Department of Managed Health Care unconstitutionally forced abortion coverage into churches’ health insurance plans without their knowledge or approval,” says ADF Legal Counsel Jeremiah Galus, “and the agency didn’t even follow the appropriate administrative procedures to institute this mandate. The court was right to deny the state’s attempt to escape accountability for its actions.” The lawsuit will now proceed in federal court.
And in Illinois, pro-life advocates await a decision from Governor Bruce Rauner, who is weighing whether or not to sign Senate Bill 1564, a legislature-approved measure that would force medical facilities and physicians – even those opposed for reasons of faith to abortion – to refer women patients to abortion providers. The law is in direct violation of other state and federal laws, but the governor is under enormous pressure from pro-abortion advocates to endorse the measure.
So it goes – on and on – the struggle between those who hallow life and the One who gives it, who value the health and safety of women and the conscience of people of faith, and those for whom corporate profit, sexual license, and personal comfort outweigh everything. Roe v. Wade didn’t spark this conflict; it merely crystallized it. And only eternity will tell how our nation, our culture, and all of our lives as individuals have been shaped, altered, and impoverished by the tens of millions of children killed over the last four decades …
… or the stunning difference made by each life spared through the tireless intercessions of those who have found the sanctity of life worth fighting for.