Earlier today, the United States Supreme Court issued their ruling on June Medical Services v. Russo. This important case involved a pro-life law from Louisiana known as Act 620, which required abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion facility. In a 5-4 decision, the law was ruled unconstitutional.
For the pro-life movement and frankly, for anyone who cares about upholding basic health and safety standards for women, this ruling is a heavy blow. June v. Russo is the first abortion case the Court has ruled on while having what many had hoped to be a new pro-life majority. Unfortunately, although Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, both appointed by President Trump and both believed to be pro-life, stood firm and dissented in the court’s ruling on the case, Chief Justice Roberts sided with the Court’s pro-abortion contingent and the law was struck down.
Chief Justice Roberts's position is even more perplexing given that he had taken the opposite position in Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstat, a nearly identical admitting privileges case struck down by the court four years ago. This time around, Chief Justice Roberts stated in a both disappointing and nonsensical ruling, that “the State may not impose an undue burden on the woman’s ability to obtain an abortion” and evoked precedent by listing previous cases which, on being informed by the infamously shaky precedent of Roe v. Wade, were upheld by the court.
Unlike Chief Justice Roberts, however, Justice Clarence Thomas, who dissented along with Justices Alito, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, was able to see through the ruse of Roe v. Wade’s sloppy precedent to the heart of the matter: the constitution does not, and has not ever, contained a right to an abortion. In his scathing dissent, Justice Thomas points out that "Roe is grievously wrong for many reasons, but the most fundamental is that its core holding—that the Constitution protects a woman’s right to abort her unborn child—finds no support in the text of the Fourteenth Amendment." He debunks the common fallacy that the Fourteenth amendment, which was ratified over 150 years ago, somehow contained the right to an abortion, and calls the reasoning behind finding a conveniently vague right to privacy, extended to create the “constitutional” right to an abortion, “... as mystifying as it is baseless.”
When thinking of the deadly consequences of Roe’s egregious precedent, the words of Abraham Lincoln, who fought to make slavery illegal and unthinkable regardless of society’s status quo, come to mind: "No law can give me the right to do what is wrong." The Supreme Court’s perpetuation of Roe’s terrible decision under the guise of precedent in June v. Russo is a great blow for human rights-both the rights of the unborn and the rights of the women of Louisiana, whose lives will be left in the hands of the very abortion doctors who fought tooth and nail against basic health and safety standards.
With this decision, the pro-life movement has been given abundant clarity on what we must do going forward. Without another Justice who is willing to call Roe v. Wade what it is, an illogical and outdated precedent that continues to cripple the Court’s ability to judge clearly and ethically on abortion, advancing the pro-life cause on the judicial level will be next to impossible. If we want pro-life laws to be upheld and ultimately, Roe v. Wade overturned, we have to vote our pro-life values this November. The future of life in our country rises or falls on who we elect to the highest office in our land. If today’s ruling has taught us anything, it's that elections really do matter. How we prioritize life in the ballot box in this coming election will determine whether we can create a culture of life in our lifetime or not.
Today’s ruling won’t keep us from continuing to fight for life. We won’t stop until the right to life of every person, born and unborn, is protected under law. We are so grateful for your support and we know that together we can end abortion.
The Team at Ohio Right to Life