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Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Supreme Court’

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Now-closed Kansas City “Affordable Abortions”  lab specimen prep room in 2003 (photos by staff whistle-blower)

The U.S. Supreme Court 5-3 Whole Women’s Health v Hellerstedt ruling June 27th is not the huge victory abortion supporters claim. However, there is no question that “Hellerstedt” is a truly troublesome ruling, as it:

  • undermines the Court’s former support for the compelling interests of state legislatures,
  • makes the Supreme Court the nation’s medical board, and
  • encourages activist courts to indulge in subjective judgment of abortion regulations.

Ultimately, it’s a setback for the pro-life movement both nationally and in Kansas. However, looking at the long game, Supreme Court decisions are not set in stone.

As a reminder,  the Court struck down a ban on partial-birth abortions in 2000 and then in 2007 upheld the ban. Why? The language of the ban was tweaked, the public became educated (and outraged) and the composition of the Supreme Court changed. This is why presidential elections matter.

HORRIBLE RULING
Hellerstedt
has abandoned any pretext that the Court is only involved to guarantee “safe and legal” abortion. They have overruled protection for women in order to protect abortion business profits. The Court has reinforced its schizophrenia that demands abortion be treated as a medical procedure, but not be subject to the ordinary state oversight other medical facilities must obey.

Kansas City "Affordable Abortions"

“Affordable Abortions” unsterile surgical bedside with open trash and dirty carpet

Kansas has had plenty of abortion horror stories. A staff whistle-blower took photos in 2003 at the inner city “Affordable Abortions” clinic of Krishna Rajanna (now closed). She was so worried about the filth there she would wipe down the surgical bed with rubbing alcohol whenever she could.

Kansas had a duty to enact abortion clinic regulations, and it took ten years to get a licensure and inspection law— passed when we had a pro-life governor in 2011.
(Read more here and here.)

The abominable majority opinion last Monday, written by Justice Breyer, absurdly tries to justify striking down Texas’ clinic regulations, asserting that having such laws in place would not stop the “very bad behavior” of “determined wrong-doers” like Kansas had  at the “Affordable Abortions” clinic and elsewhere. With that logic, no laws would ever be passed.

The Hellerstedt ruling is harshly criticized by the dissenting justices (Thomas, Alito and Roberts) for breaking procedural rules and being so riddled with special exceptions for special rights” that it violates “the promise of a judiciary bound by the rule of law.”

Planned Parenthood has announced now they’ll fight abortion regulations in eight states: Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia– “with more to come” against similar laws across the country. National Right to Life Committee president, Carol Tobias, expects only measures identical to those blocked by the Supreme Court will be vulnerable to appeal.

HOW IS KANSAS AFFECTED?
The office of Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has so far announced that the legal team is studying the Hellerstedt ruling with respect to three ongoing lawsuits filed by Kansas abortionists. The A.G. team has prevailed in all other concluded abortion litigation since 2011.  (Read more about Kansas abortion clinics and lawsuits here.)

"Affordable Abortions" had blocked back exit with lawn mower in the mess as a "back-up generator"

“Affordable Abortions” fire-hazard blocked back exit with lawn mower (by door) as a “back-up generator”

Most directly related to Hellerstedt is the 2011 Kansas comprehensive abortion clinic licensure & inspection law which has never been in effect due to a “temporary” injunction and to an unjustifiable 4 1/2 year delay from Shawnee District Court Judge Franklin Theis.

That law includes building safety standards, injury & death incident reporting, abortion-specific protocols and a requirement that abortions be performed by Kansas-licensed physicians. Relative to Hellerstedt, it

  1. does mandate hospital privileges for abortionists within 30 miles of the abortion site, but
  2. does not require an abortion facility to be licensed as an ambulatory surgical center (ASC).

The admitting privilege (#1)  does mirror that of Texas, but the context in Kansas is not the same. All four Kansas abortion businesses  (2 in Wichita and 2 in Overland Park) claim to have access to abortionists with hospital privileges.

As for #2, although some of the Kansas facility requirements do resemble those of ASCs,  those provisions would not automatically need to be struck down. Also, two Kansas abortion businesses(Planned Parenthood and SouthWind) are already licensed as ASCs.

However, following Hellerstedt, activist courts will be more encouraged to subjectively critique –and potentially reject–duly-passed medical oversight laws.

 

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"third world" conditions of inner-city abortion clinic

“sterilization room” of now-closed Kansas City abortion clinic

By a vote of 5-3 today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a  ruling protecting abortion profits above state health protocols.  Struck down are two provisions of HB2, a Texas law requiring abortion clinics to meet the same safety standards as ambulatory surgical centers and requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital in case of medical emergencies.

Similar provisions are part of a larger pro-life bill under injunction in Kansas.

This ruling was not unexpected because the majority of the nation’s highest Court supports abortion and will go to any lengths to preserve it—even self-contradiction. The Court both affirmed and then undermined this holding (from Roe): “the State has a legitimate interest in seeing to it that abortion . . . is performed under circumstances that insure maximum safety for the patient.”

In its pretzel logic the Court now dictates that state regulation must be subject to interpretation of how it might present an “obstacle” to abortion. The same standards any state uses to insure safe medical facilities —under today’s rulings—cannot routinely apply to surgical abortion facilities.

This is ridiculous.

Even disgusting, filthy hole-in the-wall clinics that won’t upgrade their facilities are now –in the Court’s eyes—protected by a veritable “necessity” exemption. Yet the existence of at least two such clinics in Kansas City were a main impetus for the Kansas abortion clinic licensure law passed in 2011.

That Kansas law was ten years in the making, including testimony of patient abuse, abortion malpractice and “third-world” caliber clinics. (read more)

Today’s ruling now guarantees more judges at every level will be involved in scrutinizing duly-passed pro-life laws to decipher whether they will pass muster with the U.S. Supreme Court’s subjective notion of what constitutes an “obstacle” to abortion.

Statement from KFL Executive Director, Mary Kay Culp:

“No one should applaud today’s decision. It shows in the starkest terms the so-called ‘safe and legal’ fantasy for what it always has been: a cover for abortion at all costs. Today’s decision is a real tragedy for mothers and as always, for their unborn children–something most women realize eventually.”

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slogan dismembermtAmanda Marcotte is a strident abortion proponent who is in abject misery about the passage of the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act in Kansas and Oklahoma.

Her headline reads “Anti-Choicers Are Going to Take Away Second-Trimester Abortion Without Much Notice” and though the actual content of her piece is all over the place, her message is clear; she is

  1. distressed that a significant abortion restriction is now available to reach the Supreme Court, and
  2. frustrated that her side not only has no defense, it can’t even discuss the law’s content for PR reasons.

They have no defense because there is no defense for dismemberment abortions which crush, tear and pulverize living unborn human beings. Marcotte dares not even mention the unborn baby, which is the focus of this new law.

By necessity all state pro-life measures attempt to navigate the landscape and boundaries set out by the U.S. Supreme Court. That includes understanding that with the 1992 Casey decision, the justices have left the door ajar for additional limitations.

Marcotte recognizes that the authors of various pro-life bills over the past decade have taken different approaches. Why wouldn’t they probe and prod, looking to see what the justices will accept?  That only makes sense.

Marcotte tries to dismiss these laws, which is her prerogative, but it is simply foolish to dismiss the fact that there is a  public receptivity to them.

Marcotte does recognize that this dismemberment ban (with language provided by the top experts at the National Right to Life Committee) is a genuine threat to the abortion status quo. The law is a natural follow-up to the ban on partial-birth abortion, upheld in the 2007 Gonzales v Carhart ruling. Let me explain.

The Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act has several purposes

  • to educate the public about the gruesome torture inflicted on the living, unborn child in a D&E dismemberment abortion;
  • to stop such abortions; and
  • to present the Supreme Court with a bill that is consonant with what a majority of the High Court held in the partial-birth abortion ruling.

Abortion attorneys themselves anticipated–with dread, of course– this ban on dismemberment abortions after Gonzales. In Gonzales, the justices upheld the public’s right, through duly passed laws, to halt a barbaric abortion method, despite the protests of abortionists that this partial-birth method was “safer” for women and needed.

States have provided a variety of significant pro-life measures that the Court may indeed soon chose to weigh in on, including conflicting rulings on the woman’s full access to viewing her unborn child’s ultrasound prior to abortion.

However, this ban on dismemberment abortions would present the Court with a direct follow up to their last abortion ruling. That is what scares Marcotte.

And it should.

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Unborn child. 16 wks

Unborn child. 16 wks

Kansas is days away from a House vote on Senate Bill 95, the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act. The bill has already passed the Kansas Senate, 31-9, where pro-abortion senators refused to discuss the particulars of the abortion method (see here) which kills a baby by tearing her apart, limb from limb.

Looking ahead to see how the law might fare at the highest court, of great relevance to SB 95 are the two U.S. Supreme Court partial-birth abortion rulingsStenberg v Carhart (2000) and Gonzales v Carhart (2007).

Stenberg struck down Nebraska’s partial-birth abortion ban. Gonzales upheld the federal partial-birth abortion ban. Justice Anthony Kennedy was on the losing side in 2000 and the winning side in 2007.

In both cases, Justice Kennedy consistently blasted avoidance of describing what was actually occurring during both partial-birth and D&E /dismemberment abortions. Writing for the dissent in Stenberg, Kennedy asserted it was

necessary at the outset to set forth what may happen during an abortion… citizens [should examine] these grave and serious issues, as they must if we are to progress in knowledge and understanding and in the attainment of some degree of consensus.”

Kennedy faulted the Stenberg majority for exalting abortionists’ preferences and omitting

“the perspective of a society shocked when confronted with a new method of ending human life… The State’s constitutional authority is a vital means for citizens to address these grave and serious issues.

Kennedy also exposed the gruesome details of the D&E/ dismemberment method in his Stenberg dissent:

“As described by Dr. Carhart, the D&E procedure requires the abortionist to use instruments to grasp a portion (such as a foot or hand) of a developed and living fetus and drag the grasped portion out of the uterus into the vagina. Dr. Carhart uses the traction created by the opening between the uterus and vagina to dismember the fetus, tearing the grasped portion away from the remainder of the body…. [until the unborn baby] ‘bleeds to death as it is torn limb from limb… In Dr. Carhart’s words, the abortionist is left with ‘a tray full of pieces.’” 

Abortionist Carhart, retains a Kansas medical license

Abortionist Carhart, retains a Kansas medical license

It is precisely this inhumane D&E/ dismemberment method which Kansas wants banned with SB 95.

Seven years later, writing for the majority Gonzales opinion that upheld the federal partial-birth abortion ban, Justice Kennedy penned,

[abortionists] acknowledged that they do not describe to their patients what [the D&E and partial-birth] procedures entail in clear and precise terms’) …[yet] “it is precisely the way in which the fetus will be killed that is of legitimate concern to the State.”

While the Court called abortion details important for public consideration, long-time abortion promoters David Grimes and Carol Joffe praised the suppression of that information Feb. 19 (see here). They wrote

“D&E shifts the emotional burden of the procedure from the woman to the physician, and that is entirely appropriate. One of our most important roles as physicians is to ease suffering, both physical and emotional. The specifics of abortion methods can be unpleasant…”

This is a stunning rebuke of the “choice” slogan! It praises a paternalistic denial of facts as “appropriate” for women considering D&E/ dismemberment abortion—something physicians wouldn’t dare do with patients facing other invasive medical procedures.

SHOCK FOR POST-ABORTIVE WOMEN
Hiding what happens in abortion is harmful to public policy-making. But also consider how shocking and profoundly disturbing the truth would be for women who have already obtained a D&E/ dismemberment abortion—no matter how long ago. It is likely the case that most of these women are only now learning what a horrible, painful death was inflicted on their unborn child!

Modern science makes that realization more palpable and more undeniable. Ultrasound technology and fetal medicine confirm how very developed is the unborn child in the second trimester– which is the age when many D&E/ dismemberment abortions are obtained. Excerpts (see here) from the Kansas Health Department “Woman’s Right to Know” handbook  explain:

Unborn child, 20 weeks

Unborn child, 20 weeks

At 14 weeks, the unborn child now produces a wide variety of hormones. Also, the arms reach final proportion to body size.
By 15 weeks, the entire unborn child, except for parts of the scalp, responds to light touch, and tooth development is
underway.
By 18 weeks, the unborn child will release stress hormones in response to
being poked with a needle.
By 20 weeks,
the larynx, or voice box, moves in a way similar to movement seen during crying after birth.

Did women know these gestational development facts before assenting to a D&E/ dismemberment abortion? Unlikely–since abortionists themselves have admitted in federal trials that they hid the gruesome details of the procedure, and current abortion supporters approve of that suppression.

When it comes to exposing that the action of D&E/ dismemberment abortion is to rip limbs and tear organs from living, unborn children, Justice Kennedy was correct to claim (in Gonzales) that “D&E is a procedure itself laden with the power to devalue human life.”

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Hobby Lobby, I stand with (2)The U.S. Supreme Court today upheld, by a 5-4 majority, the right of business owners to operate their family companies without violating their deeply held religious convictions against abortion.

The decision in the Sebelius (now Burwell) v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. ruling, is here, with legal comment here.

Justice Samuel Alito authored the majority opinion, declaring that the ‘HHS contraception mandate’ (a regulation issued under Obamacare) substantially burdens the Constitutionally-protected free exercise of religion.

The essence of this ruling is that the government may not create an artifice of a health mandate to force citizens to underwrite and promote abortion.

Although regularly termed as litigation against the HHS contraceptive mandate, Hobby Lobby (and other businesses) filed suit specifically in objection to being forced to provide some contraceptives—those that act to abort human embryos—under the HHS mandate.

Specifically, they objected to 2 drugs and 2 IUD devices, labeled as contraceptive, that actually can prevent implantation of the already-formed human embryo into the womb for gestation, also called a ‘post-fertilization abortifacient function’. (Read a thorough analysis of contraceptives from pro-life OB/GYN, Donna Harrison here.)

Furthermore, when evaluating the governmental interference with religion, the Court found that the HHS mandate violates the “least restrictive means” test of the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). RFRA demands that interference with religious freedom must be based on a compelling governmental interest, and be executed in the least restrictive means needed. Without ruling whether the goal of insurance provision of contraception is really a compelling governmental interest, the Court ruled that the HHS mandate, as a means of achieving that goal, is out of bounds.

The Court affirmed that freedom of religious expression is not limited to a person in his/her private, individual capacity, but –as set out in RFRA — extends to him/her when acting as a corporation, whether for-profit or non-profit.

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unborn feel pain (2)Kansas and nine other states have passed abortion bans recognizing the unborn child as a pain-capable human being at 20 weeks post-fertilization, which is the same as being dated 22 weeks from woman’s last menstrual period, or LMP.

In 2012, Arizona passed a “hybrid” abortion law that included the fetal pain issue but would affect pregnancies 2 weeks earlier than all other similar “pain” bans. It was immediately sued, upheld in state district court and struck down by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (which does not govern Kansas). Today, the U.S. Supreme Court has declined the appeal to review the Ninth circuit’s decision.

Medical science now recognizes that the unborn child at 20 weeks post-fertilization possesses all the physiological structures needed for pain perception.

The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) created the pain-capable model legislation with hope the U.S. Supreme Court would review such a law, focusing specifically on scientific data about pain which has never been presented to them in an abortion case.  This data includes studies outside the abortion arena verifying that the thalamus, not the cortex, is needed for humans to perceive pain. [Read documentation at doctorsonfetalpain.com about the issue.]

Some quick analysis of today’s decision:

1) The U.S. Supreme Court continues to resist taking abortion cases. This is the second abortion case deferred this term– the earlier Court decision avoided a chemical abortion law from Oklahoma.   The Court is only pressured into taking on an issue when there are conflicting appellate decisions. Only one circuit has ruled on pain-related abortion bans, the (notoriously overturned) Ninth circuit.

2) The U.S. Supreme Court did not outright rule against the constitutionality of abortion bans for pain-feeling unborn children. But because the Court does not explain why they decline cases,  we are left to wonder exactly why the Court declined to examine Arizona’s law. It may well be that the bill at their doorstep had too many dimensions: not only did Arizona conjoin a second issue of late-term abortion safety with the issue of  pain to unborn babies–it also lowered the pregnancy date two weeks below where there is currently the most medical evidence for pain capability.

3) Abortion forces will certainly try to wave today’s action as a warning against states contemplating enacting pain-capable legislation. However, we still believe a “clean” law sticking to 20 weeks post-conception/22 weeks LMP is totally defensible. The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2007 abortion ruling(Gonzales), affirmed that states have compelling interests for enacting abortion regulations, and declined to list those interests. The Gonzales ruling said states may pass protective legislation based on science even when “medical consensus” on that data was lacking.

We regret that the U.S. Supreme Court has skirted examination of the issue of fetal pain, and left abortion interests encouraged by today’s action.

See further information from NRLC here.

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Ginsburg & Obama (CNN)

Days ago, President Obama warned the U.S. Supreme Court against judicial activism on their part in examining the federal health care act known as Obamacare. He said the justices should not forget the millions who have already gained, and will attain, health benefits.

Not only did the President insult the High Court by inferring they will not be issuing a determination based on the constitutionality of Obamacare, he redefined judicial activism. As a former constitutional law professor, Obama knows better.

Judicial activism is deciding cases OUTSIDE of the framework of Constitutional validity, by vacating or contorting duly passed legislation in order to accomplish some social engineering or otherwise ‘beneficiary’ goals. Thus, it would be judicial activism if the Court were to uphold Obamacare because of some ‘misery’ index or perceived health inequity.

Of course it was the judicial activism in the Roe v Wade ruling that declared a ‘penumbra’ of privacy that trumps the primary right to life. However, the Roe ruling did allow a few counterbalancing state interests that have prevailed in subsequent litigation, including, but not limited to, the state’s right to promote childbirth and regulate the integrity of the medical arts.

During the past decades, the women’s movement, led by Ruth Bader Ginsburg as an ACLU attorney, fought to make the Court constrain laws that are gender-biased, patterned after the policy on race-bias. But the Court has not allowed that principle to trump abortion, and (more…)

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