US SUPREME COURT – On March 4 the nation's highest court takes up a Louisiana abortion law that pro-life leaders believe could be used to re-examine the legal foundations of abortion in America.
It will come just weeks after the January 24th March for Life, an annual event aimed at getting the justices to overturn huge abortion rulings Roe v Wade and Planned Parenthood v Casey.
This is the first big abortion case that new justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh get to weigh in on. And many are assuming they're going to give the Court a conservative and maybe even pro-life majority.
Meanwhile, 207 U.S. senators and representatives have signed onto a brief asking the Court to now reconsider the very rulings that gave the country legal abortion nationwide.
Top Pro-Life Lawyer Says Court Can & Should Revisit Roe
"This is a case where the Court can revisit the Roe v Wade regime and should revisit that regime," Americans United for Life (AUL) President Catherine Glenn Foster told CBN News.
She helped write the brief those 207 lawmakers signed.
She said of Roe v Wade and legalized abortion, "This is something that for nearly 50 years has led to the deaths of countless, innocent, vulnerable human beings – has injured and even killed sadly, tragically, so many of their mothers. It's time for the Court to revisit this."
The high court in March will hear the case of Louisiana Medical Services, LLC v Gee to decide if it will let stand Louisiana's Unsafe Abortion Protection Act that would require abortion doctors in the state to obtain hospital admitting privileges.
Incredibly Restrictive? Or What Makes Women Safer?
Opponents of the law say it's incredibly restrictive, and it's going to make it hard for Louisiana women to get abortions in their state.
But those who support the law say all it's basically doing is insisting abortion doctors have admitting privileges to a local hospital – in case any of their patients need to be rushed quickly into an emergency room due to medical complications caused by their abortion. These admitting privileges are already something that all the other doctors of Louisiana who do surgeries outside hospitals have to have.
Foster explained, "There's this exemption for abortion. For anyone who's performing an abortion, all of a sudden the same rules don't apply. And really it is a situation where you have an abortion business fighting for the right to abandon their patients."
The AUL leader continued, "They shouldn't be able to just forget about that woman as soon as she walks out from their door. They should ensure that she gets the emergency care that she needs and the treatment that she needs after that abortion has gone wrong."
Will It Leave Just One Doctor to Do 10,000 Abortions a Year?
Opponents say Louisiana is down to just three abortion clinics and if the Supreme Court lets this law stand, they claim only one abortion doctor will have those hospital admitting privileges in the state, so only that doctor's clinic will survive the new requirement. And that one doctor can hardly perform all 10,000 abortions that occur in a typical year in Louisiana.
The law's supporters say if no other Louisiana abortion doctors can pass a review by fellow medical professionals to get those admitting privileges, then those doctors shouldn't be performing an operation as risky as abortion on women.
As National Right to Life General Counsel James Bopp Jr. put it, "The Louisiana case demonstrates the abortion industry's utter disregard for the lives and health of women by recklessly hiring abortion doctors who are obviously unqualified to perform abortions. The Louisiana hospital-admitting-privilege law addresses this problem by insuring that abortion doctors are subject to close scrutiny by other physicians."
The Center for Reproductive Rights, lead counsel for the abortion clinics in the case, is quick to try to counter that point in its backgrounder on Louisiana Medical Services LLC v Gee.
Abortion: 'Very Safe' or 'Risky for Scores of Women'
"Requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a local hospital ignores the fact that abortion is very safe and patients rarely require emergency care," the center argues.
It continues, "Requiring admitting privileges does not make patients safer but, instead, just reduces access to abortion by reducing providers and clinics."
These opponents cite rulings like Planned Parenthood v Casey that declared there must be no undue burden placed on women's access to abortion.
Undue Burden = Undue Risk?
And that's one reason AUL's Foster and other pro-life legal types say the Supreme Court should re-examine rulings like Planned Parenthood v Casey: because it's brought women to a state where their safety and lives are put at risk in the name of not placing an undue burden on their obtaining an abortion.
Foster insists – along with a bipartisan majority of Louisiana lawmakers – abortions have been risky for scores of women and have landed them in emergency rooms.
Foster told CBN News, "It's tragic because we have this largely unregulated field where women are getting injured, women are getting killed."
"This is a case where there's an abortion business that is fighting for the right to abandon its patients," Foster said of the present case coming before the justices in March. "And the Court is also going to be looking at the question of whether that business should be allowed to go into court and try to strike down the very laws that were enacted to protect their patients – the women – from them."
Organizations That Fought Pro-Abortion Demands & Won
While Foster is a lawyer, Dr. Peter Lillback has also been to court fighting abortion. He's president of Pennsylvania's Westminster Theological Seminary, which ended up in a legal battle against Obamacare regulations that would force the seminary to pay for abortion-causing contraceptives.
Lillback described Obama-era bureaucrats reaction to the seminary's principled refusal to go along with their regulations: "They said, 'Well, it's easy: you just have to pay two million dollars a year in fines.'"
So off to Court the seminary and groups like Little Sisters of the Poor went.
"It ended up going all the way to the Supreme Court," Lillback shared. "And something happened that's never happened in the history of the Court as far as I understand: they said 'we can't solve this problem.' And they gave it back to the contestants."
They Kept Their Conscience Clean…& Gov't Picked Up the Check
The legal fight finally ended after the newly-elected Trump administration reversed course, giving the pro-lifers a legal victory, and even paying the legal bills.
Lillback said of the outcome, "And I've had to laugh: a non-profit organization – separation of church and state – we got paid by the government for our conscience's sake. It's a wonderful story of God's providential care."
Lillback believes pro-life legal victories can help land blows against Roe v Wade, stating, "Of course we long for the courts to say 'Roe v Wade was a bad decision. You can't find abortion rights in the Constitution.'"
Winning Only in Court Isn't Enough
But he says it's more important that pro-life people keep fighting on ALL fronts and change the American culture. One thing they could do is be on the National Mall in Washington D.C. January 24th for the March for Life.
That massive annual demonstration has a force when combined with the thousands of other pro-life actions taken by citizens opposed to abortion.
"We are moving in the right direction," the Westminster president suggested. "And so, I think our battle is won one day at a time, one decision at a time, one life rescued at a time."
What About Citizens in the Womb?
AUL President Foster added, "We are seeing culture shifting, we're seeing a move, as the younger generation especially demands authenticity and transparency and says, 'Hang on. If we're going to protect our neighbors if we're going to protect our fellow citizens, why doesn't that extend to our fellow citizens, our neighbors, in the womb, the most vulnerable among us?'"
Lillback waxed poetic, saying, "A massive river was once a lot of little raindrops that all flowed in the same direction. And so when each of us each day makes a decision – whatever it may be: giving, serving, praying, acting, caring for someone – as we do these things for the sanctity of life, we are creating a mighty stream."
Foster concluded, "And as we see all of this working together, we're seeing the culture of life growing and the momentum building until we can come to the point where we really can say that America is a pro-life nation."