Monday marked a potentially important victory for the $1 billion abortion industry with the U.S. Supreme Court handing down its most significant abortion opinion in over a decade. The enhanced health and safety standards adopted by Texas in 2013 for abortion centers in that state were struck down as creating an “undue burden” on a woman’s “right” to obtain an abortion in that state. Not surprisingly, the 5-3 majority opinion turned entirely on political ideology rather than the Court’s own precedents – let alone an honest reading of the Constitution.
In its opinion, the Court essentially made up a new legal standard for determining the legitimacy of laws that may somehow impact the golden calf of abortion. Courts – not the duly elected legislative bodies – now get to determine whether a regulation is “medically necessary” or not. And then, they ignored evidence that the standards are necessary while blindly accepting the abortion industry’s word for the procedure’s safety.
Of course, the big question remains – how does this affect Virginia’s abortion center health and safety standards?
The facts and circumstances in the Texas case that led to the Court’s opinion are vastly different from the situation in Virginia. For example, Virginia does not have some of the regulations at issue in Texas, such as the requirement that abortion doctors have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. In addition, Virginia allows for the Commissioner of Health to grant “variances” from some aspects of the safety standards, unlike Texas where no such variances were allowed. Thus far, the Commissioner has granted every abortion center variances from construction standards, thereby insulating the abortion industry from the “most expensive” aspect of the standards.
In Virginia, only five of the twenty abortion centers that existed when the standards were adopted have closed (one other center currently has its license suspended), and some of those were due to issues other than the standards themselves. In Texas, over half of the centers had closed and more than half of the remaining indicated they would close as well.
Based on our reading of yesterday’s opinion, it appears that abortion health and safety standards that existed in Texas prior to the new law struck down by the Court could remain in effect, with the Court at least implying that those standards are constitutionally valid. Examples of those laws include inspections by public health officials, infection control standards, staffing requirements and patient-rights standards.
The good news for Virginia is that in many ways the original Texas standards closely reflect the health and safety standards we fought hard to pass in 2012, so we feel optimistic that our fight to preserve them will continue in much the same way. At the same time, we will not be surprised if and when the Governor and Attorney General, who received nearly $2 million in campaign contributions from the abortion industry, do everything within their power to use the Court’s opinion to justify gutting every common-sense health and safety measure for women.
Should they try to do that, The Family Foundation will have a simple message for them: Not on our watch.
We will continue to monitor the impact that this case has on Virginia’s health and safety regulations. Rather than walking away in a feeling of defeat, we will be doubling down to protect women from abortionists like Stephen Brigham and William Fitzhugh, continuing to expose the horrific conditions occurring inside of these abortion centers, and most importantly – to promote and protect innocent life.
Currently, the Board of Health is considering amendments – some proffered by Governor McAuliffe – to relax some of the standards. If you have not commented in opposition to these changes please click here and do so today! The public comment period ends Thursday, June 30th at midnight.
We appreciate your willingness to continue to fight by our side! I truly believe that most Americans support basic health standards for abortion centers to protect women. Unlike the secular progressive left, we can care about both the woman who makes the poor choice to have an abortion and the unborn child. And, similar to when the abortion industry struck down bans on partial-birth abortion, this abortion industry “victory” is hollow – and temporary.