Answered Prayer In Major Abortion Lawsuit

Last night, federal district court Judge Henry E. Hudson released his highly-anticipated 67-page opinion in the abortion industry’s challenge to virtually all of Virginia’s pro-life laws, Falls Church Medical Center v. Oliver. (For a recap of the two-week trial earlier this summer, read our blog here.)  In a huge answer to prayer, the decision is a near-total repudiation of the abortion industry's baseless claims and a huge victory for the rule of law and Virginia's common-sense measures to protect women's health, safety, and ensure their fully-informed consent before making an irreversible decision to end the life of their unborn child.

The Court upheld nearly every one of the health and safety standards for inspections in abortion centers, as well as the hospital requirement for surgical and post-viability 2nd-trimester and all 3rd-trimester abortions, the requirement that only a physician may perform the procedure, and all of Virginia's informed consent law, which includes the opportunity to view an ultrasound image and a mandatory 24-hour wait period after the ultrasound and prior to an abortion.

Your faithful prayers have been answered! And the hard-fought pro-life victories of over 40 years in Virginia have nearly all been affirmed by this opinion. This outcome is especially noteworthy because it comes in spite of the fact that our own Attorney General Mark Herring, the abortion industry's greatest ally, again refused to defend our laws, but instead opted to hire outside counsel who proved throughout the litigation all too willing to cede critical issues without a fight. 

While the opinion was an overall win, especially considering the number and nature of the laws that were challenged, we are very disappointed that the Court chose to grant abortion facilities the ability now to perform “pre-viability” 2nd-trimester abortions, instead of the far safer and more accountable hospital setting the statute required for any abortion past the first trimester. The Court reasoned that, since just two Virginia facilities routinely perform 2nd-trimester abortions, not allowing abortion facilities to do them is “unduly burdensome” – even though no evidence was ever presented to indicate that any woman in Virginia had any difficulty accessing those facilities.  

Not only will this virtually guarantee more unborn lives will be lost, and more money will flow to the billion-dollar abortion industry, but it presumably leaves it up to profit-driven abortionists to determine when a child is considered "viable" or not. Given that our own Governor – who ultimately oversees the Department of Health – unashamedly maintains that babies who are viable enough to survive an attempted 2nd-trimester abortion should simply be left on a table to die, how in the world could anyone trust Planned Parenthood to restrain themselves from killing viable babies in the 2nd trimester?

While it is true that most abortions take place during the first trimester of pregnancy, we fear this opens the door for later abortions to become more common. Yet as a practical matter, we were already aware that some of these facilities have begun doing 2nd-trimester abortions after Attorney General Herring recently signaled to the abortion centers that they could perform 2nd-trimester abortions without fear of prosecution from his office. The one other unfortunate part of the opinion eliminates certain requirements for design and construction standards, such as halls wide enough to carry a stretcher though, for abortion facilities performing first-trimester abortions, despite the demonstrated need for many of these requirements in a medical setting. At the same time, the Board of Health has already provided variances for this requirement to every facility that has requested it since the regulations took effect in 2011, so there is effectively no change.

We don't yet know whether the abortion industry will appeal the case to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, so we will continue to monitor the situation. Meanwhile, we praise God for many answered prayers, and for the many continued protections for unborn lives and their mothers.