Pro-Life Advocates Respond to SCOTUS Decision on Abortion Clinics: Women Won’t Be Protected

By Penny Starr | June 27, 2016 | 3:39pm EDT
Protesters rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, March 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

( – Pro-life advocates are responding to the 5-3 Supreme Court decision in a case over the regulation of abortion clinics as surgical centers in Texas, with the consensus being that women will suffer without the protections the law was designed to provide.

"The Supreme Court's decision to strike down H.B. 2 undermines the health and safety of vulnerable women,” Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said in a statement about the ruling in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt. “This decision is a loss for women and gives the abortion industry a free pass.

“The need to regulate abortion facilities is necessary to protect women against cut-and-run abortionists at shoddy abortion facilities,” Perkins said. “Mandating basic and necessary health and safety standards such as trained staff, corridors that could accommodate a stretcher in case of emergency, admitting privileges to a hospital, and up-to-date fire, sanitation, and safety codes should be beyond the politics of abortion.

“When abortion facilities are not held to the same standards as other facilities, women's lives are endangered,” Perkins said, noting that in 2011, 26,500 women in the United States experienced abortion-related complications, and some 3,200 required post-abortion hospitalization.

"While the need to protect the health and safety of women failed to remain at the forefront of the Supreme Court's decision, we will continue our work to protect women and children from the predatory abortion industry," Perkins said.

"How shabby are these abortion clinics that they cannot meet the minimum standards other outpatient surgical centers are required to meet, and just how bad are these abortionists that they can't get admitting privileges at a local hospital?" Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life, said in a statement.

"As we saw with Kermit Gosnell in Philadelphia, it's clear that the lucrative abortion industry is not able or willing to police itself and allows filthy, deplorable conditions to go unchecked,” Tobias said.

Tobias noted that the provisions struck by the court were part of a broader pro-life omnibus package passed by the Texas legislature in 2013. Texas H.B. 2 also included National Right to Life model language to protect unborn children who are capable of experiencing great pain when being killed by dismemberment or other late abortion methods.

An unborn child is capable of feeling pain by 20 weeks after fertilization and earlier, Tobias noted. That provision of the law was unchallenged in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, she said.

“The Supreme Court today overturned a Texas law protecting women’s health because it viewed the law as ‘unnecessary,’” Thomas More Society attorney Jocelyn Floyd said in a statement. “Texas enacted common-sense provisions to protect women at abortion facilities from substandard care, requiring abortion providers to meet the same standards as other similar medical clinics.”

Thomas More Society filed an amicus brief in the case, which stated the Texas law is constitutional.

"The Court was wrong to strike down a reasonable law that protected women from unsafe abortion facilities like Kermit Gosnell's notorious and deadly 'house of horrors' clinic,” Heritage Foundation experts Roger Severino and Elizabeth Slattery said in a joint statement. “This decision will allow abortion extremists to keep open disreputable abortion clinics that fail to meet basic safety and cleanliness standards followed by every other facility that performs invasive surgeries."

Two pro-life Republican members of Congress also issued statements after the court ruling.

"It is disappointing to learn that the Supreme Court is willing to change constitutional rights for liberal interests, but fall back on protecting women and the unborn," Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said. "This law has not only been an advancement for safe clinical practices, but it has given judicial rights to safeguard the health of women and children.

“To take away these rights for life and for safety will only result in careless practices and little oversight on abortion regulations,” Cole said. “The ruling is foolish and detrimental to the wellbeing of women across the nation, and to those who value the sanctity of life."

"The Supreme Court's ruling is a disappointment for millions of pro-life Americans who understand that being pro-life is about protecting babies and their mothers,” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said in a statement. “Both sides of the abortion debate should have been able to agree that sanitary conditions and hospital admitting privileges are not controversial."

Texas is among 10 states with similar admitting-privileges requirements, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights. The requirement is in effect in most of Texas, Missouri, North Dakota and Tennessee. It is on hold in Alabama, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.

Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined Stephen Breyer, who wrote the majority opinion. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented.

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