Posts Tagged ‘Abortion’

There are Never Enough Abortions for our State Leaders

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

Does anyone seriously think we need more abortions in New York, or that abortions are hard to get in our state? Apparently, our Governor and some leading Democratic legislators do. What can they possibly be thinking?

According to the most recent state statistics from 2014, there were 93,300 abortions in New York State. The Alan Guttmacher Institute, a well-known pro-abortion research group, puts the number highter, at 119,400. Thanks be to God, these number have been coming down in recent years, but regardless, it’s a mind-boggling number — in less than two years, the equivalent of the population of my home town, Yonkers, is exterminated.

There are few, if any, limits on access to abortion in New York. Women of every single county have abortions, and there are over 200 facilities where they take place, mostly stand-alone clinics. 79% of New York’s abortions are currently paid for by health insurance, 47% by Medicaid. In 52% of the abortions, the mother had at least one prior; in 15%, the mother had 3 or more priors;  in 4.3%, the mother had 5 or more priors. Nobody is having a hard time getting an abortion.

There is no evidence that wider access to abortion is necessary to preserve the health of women. The vast majority of abortions have nothing to do with health concerns. According to Guttmacher, “The three most common reasons — each cited by three-fourths of patients — were concern for or responsibility to other individuals; the inability to afford raising a child; and the belief that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents. Half said they did not want to be a single parent or were having problems with their husband or partner.” In other words, most abortions are taking place as a method of back-up contraception, and have nothing to do with the health of mothers.

So why are the Governor and legislators pushing for more abortions?

The Governor just announced a new set of regulations that would require every health insurance plan to cover “medically necessary” abortions, with no co-pays or deductibles. The term “medically necessary” isn’t defined in his rules, but pro-abortion advocates have typically used it to mean basically any abortion that a doctor either recommends or agrees to. In short, the Governor thinks that every woman in New York should be able to have an abortion for any reason whatsoever at any stage of pregnancy — for free. I’m sure the Governor understands economics, so I’m sure he understands very well that if you reduce the cost of something to zero, more people will avail themselves of it.

And take a look at the new bill that’s been introduced by Democrats in the Legislature (and that I would expect the Governor to sign into law, if it ever passes). This bill is really wicked. It would:

  • Permit non-doctors to do surgical abortions.
  • Increase the number of late-term abortions.
  • Endanger the few health and safety regulations that we currently have.
  • Compel hospitals and doctors to participate in abortions.
  • Eliminate any criminal penalties for back-alley abortions.

The worst part of this bill is so extreme that it boggles the mind. It would repeal a section of our Public Health Law (Section 4164, the “Baby Doe Law”) that gives full civil rights protection to any child who might be born alive as the result of an abortion. This law also requires a second doctor to be available during a late-term abortion — when the baby is likely to be able to live outside of the womb with basic medical care.

This evil bill would eliminate that law and treat those babies as non-persons — essentially saying, to paraphrase the infamous Dred Scott decision, that “a baby born alive after an abortion has no rights that born people are bound to respect”. Yet our Politburo-like Assembly passed the bill by a wide margin, and the only thing standing between it and the Governor’s pen is the slim pro-life majority in the Senate.

It is hard to conceive a reason to repeal these humane protections of basic human rights — unless you understand that the true motivation of pro-abortion advocates is to ensure the death of more “unwanted” babies.

This is what our state has come to. All the hooplah over marches for women and full civil rights for weak and vulnerable people is just a charade. The tragic reality is that powerful people in New York — particularly our Governor and Democratic legislative leaders — want to change the law so that there are more dead children, more damaged mothers and fathers, and an increase in the malign effects of the Culture of Death.

When will enough be enough?

A Political Desecration

Monday, November 7th, 2016

Yesterday, Fr. Frank Pavone, the leader of Priests for Life, went live on Facebook to endorse Donald Trump for President. That’s his right as a U.S. citizen, and one can agree or disagree with that as a matter of course. But the way he did it was absolutely appalling, and deserves to be repudiated by all of us who consider ourselves to be pro-life in the fullest meaning of that word.

What did he do? He used a dead aborted baby, laying naked and bloody on an altar, as a prop for his video.

Yes, you read that correctly.

A priest of the Catholic Church publicly displayed on a sacred altar a dead baby who was the victim of a terrible crime as part of a propaganda video in favor of a political candidate.

It is hard for me to express in calm, measured terms, the revulsion I feel about this. I know that the pro-life movement has long had a debate about the use of graphic images to reveal the reality of abortion. The discussion has always focused on a cost/benefit analysis of their effect of the viewer versus the risk of alienating those who don’t want to see such things, especially on women who are post-abortive and have not yet healed.

But that’s all beside the point. The real question is, what about that baby as a human being? That baby is an individual human person, someone’s son or daughter, made in the image and likeness of God, unique and unrepeatable, and deserving of our love and mercy. To use her body in this way is to treat that poor lost girl or boy as an object to be used — which is the antithesis of love  — and not as a brother or sister to be mourned.

Who would ever wish that their body be used in such a way?  Who would ever want that for a loved one?  Can any of us imagine that being the right way to treat the remains of our dead son or daughter?

And to place that baby’s body on an altar, which has been sanctified for the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? To treat the altar of God as if it’s a mere podium for a political speech?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that “The bodies of the dead must be treated with respect and charity, in faith and hope of the Resurrection.” There is no ambiguity there.

A human being has been sacrificed and the altar of God has been desecrated, all for politics. Everyone who respects the dignity of every human person should reject and disavow this atrocity.

New York is Open for Business for Late-Term Abortions

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

The Attorney General of New York has long been an enthusiast for abortion. He used to boast about how he once served as an “escort” to accompany women into abortion clinics. He has consistently found pretty much every way possible to promote abortion. And he has now reached a new low, issuing a legal opinion that sends a clear message to the world — New York is open for business for late-term abortions.

As a legal matter, his opinion letter is not a surprise. He correctly stated that to be valid under current Supreme Court precedent (I refuse to call it “constitutional law”), New York’s abortion law must contain a “health exception” for post-viability abortions. But the problem is that “health” has been defined so broadly as to be functionally meaningless, since it would include  “all factors – physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age – relevant to the well-being of the patient. All these factors may relate to health.” (That’s a quote from Doe v. Bolton, the companion case to Roe v. Wade).

So the effect of the AG’s opinion is to make clear to the world that New York permits abortion on demand for all nine months of pregnancy, for any reason whatsoever. And remember, there’s no requirement that a woman seeking an abortion be a New York resident — so it’s come one, come all.

The really insidious part of the opinion comes in the second part of his opinion, dealing with late-term abortions where the baby is “nonviable”.

The problem with a relying on a “viability” standard is that it is undefined in the law — neither the Supreme Court nor New York law defines it with any kind of specificity (in fact, the term is entirely absent in the New York statute). In Casey, the Court described “the concept of viability” as “the time at which there is a realistic possibility of maintaining and nourishing a life outside the womb”. In Roe, the Court said it meant that “the fetus then presumably has the capability of meaningful life outside the mother’s womb”.

Talk about arbitrary. What does that mean, and who decides?

Here’s the devil in the details. As the Attorney General noted in his opinion, the Supreme Court has left it to the abortionist to decide — with no requirement that his opinion be reviewed by anyone, with no legal standard, entirely in his discretion. In fact, the Court said that “it is not the proper function of the legislature or the courts to place viability, which essentially is a medical concept, at a specific point in the gestation period. The time when viability is achieved may vary with each pregnancy, and the determination of whether a particular fetus is viable is, and must be, a matter for the judgment of the responsible attending physician.” (That’s from the decision in Planned Parenthood v. Danforth)

So it’s carte blanche for abortionists. He could interpret “nonviable” to mean that the baby cannot have a “meaningful” life because she needs some kind of basic life support (which is common and ordinary care for preemies), or she will not survive more than a short time (which would encompass many babies with treatable disabilities, much less babies with microcephaly due to Zika).

The end result is an open door to late-term abortion that specifically targets babies with disabilities. That’s eugenics, and it’s unequivocally evil.

New York has often been called “The Abortion Capital of the United States”. It’s hard to believe, but this recent move has made it even worse. Thanks to our Attorney General, New York is rolling out the carpet for late-term abortions.

Speaking About Social Justice and Inequality

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

In this political season, we have heard much about “inequality” and “social justice” from the candidates in the Democratic primaries. These are certainly subjects worth talking about. Let’s do so.

In 1972, the Court of Appeals of New York State said the following: “The Constitution does not confer or require legal personality for the unborn”. ( Byrn v. NYC Health and Hospital Corp.)

In 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States added this: “the word “person,” as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn”. ( Roe v. Wade)

So our Black-Robed Platonic Guardian Rulers on the Courts have thereby expelled an entire class of human beings — those who haven’t been lucky enough to be born yet — from society. They have declared them to be beyond the protection of the laws. In the English legal tradition, this would make them “outlaws” — stripped of any legal rights, liable to be killed with impunity without trial. It is equivalent to being legally dead, and nobody can lend them any assistance. They have less legal protection than animals or property.

It was to eliminate the inherent injustice and inhumanity of “outlawry” that motivated the guarantees of the right to trial and to the writ of habeas corpus in the Magna Carta and subsequent laws. It eventually led the Founders of our nation to enact the ban on bills of attainder, and the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of our Constitution. Their purpose was to ensure that everyone is within the protections of the law, that nobody is an “outlaw”, that nobody can be cast out of society.

So let us take a close look at Presidential candidates who speak of “social justice” and denounce “inequality”, yet support the unlimited power to abort an unborn child up until the moment of birth for any reason, who oppose any and all regulations of abortion, who campaign openly in favor of it, who accept the support of organizations that profit from it. Let’s ask them a few questions:

What concept of “social justice” permits unborn boys and girls to be treated as “outlaws” without any protection of the law, and thus liable to being killed with impunity?

Is it “social justice” to treat unborn boys and girls worse than African-Americans were treated under the Jim Crow regime? Or was the Supreme Court right in its infamous Dred Scott decision — in which they said African-Americans have “no rights which the white man was bound to respect”?

Do we still reject as impermissible “inequality” the legal segregation of an entire class of humans into second-class status? Or was Brown v. Board of Education wrongly decided?

The answers to these questions are obvious. In a dissenting opinion in the Byrn case, one of the judges of the Court of appeals said this:

The fundamental nature of life makes impossible a classification of living, human beings as nonpersons, who can be excluded from the protection of the Constitution of the United States so that their right to life can be taken from them in spite of the due process clause and equal protection clause.

Yes, by all means, as this Presidential race develops, let us speak about “social justice” and “inequality”. And let us judge the candidates based on how they answer our questions.

The Danger is Clear and Present

Saturday, May 14th, 2016

There are many people who continue to scoff at our warnings about the gravity of the threats to religious liberty, and our fears of outright persecution by our government. They accuse us of scaremongering, and insist that “that will never happen”.

The skeptics need to come to New York. The threat is real, and it is here, right now — a government mandate that private health insurance plans cover elective abortions. And it is happening with all the classic characteristics of New York government — secretive, devious, duplicitous, unaccountable, and arrogant.

To understand this, you have to have a small bit of background. The New York State Department of Financial Services regulates the insurance business. They have to approve every health insurance policy by the beginning of the new year, to make sure that it complies with all the various legal requirements in New York law. To make this easier, DFS issues what it calls “model language” for health plans. Although one would think that “model language” is merely a suggestion, in reality it is required, because no health plan would be approved without it. So every health insurance company just falls in line, and the person obtaining the insurance really has no choice. So the “model language” is actually a legal mandate, dressed up in other clothing to hide the truth.

Here’s where the classic New York underhandedness comes in. Last year, DFS put out draft “model language” for small employer policies that included coverage for so-called “therapeutic abortions” — which really means abortion on demand, for any reason whatsoever. Now, of course, there is no legal authority for this — it isn’t authorized by legislation and it’s never been put through the normal process for issuing regulations. But that has never stopped a New York executive agency before — they typically act as if they were a law unto themselves, and they just make up new “laws” as they wish.

Objections were made to the crypto-mandate, and so DFS went into “rope-a-dope” mode. They promised to study it, to discuss it with superiors, etc., etc. Nothing happened, despite repeated requests for clarification. The effect of this obfuscation and delay was that they ran out the clock until the end of the year, when every insurance plan has to be submitted for approval, including the model language.

As the deadline approached, DFS dropped the real bomb, the one that shows such patent bad faith that even completely cynical watchers of New York government were appalled. In an off-handed comment, a DFS official told a representative of the Catholic Church words to the effect that “Oh, what’s the problem, you’re already paying for therapeutic abortions”. When our representative picked himself off the floor and asked “how?” and “since when?” and “why didn’t you tell us?”, the bureaucrat said that it had been the case for a long time,  and that it was all under the rubric of “medically necessary surgery”, which is automatically covered in all health insurance policies. And, of course, there’s no exemption for religious employers or anyone else who objects to paying for the killing of unborn children.

So a sneaky, duplicitous state agency has been making Catholic institutions — and everyone else — pay for elective abortions for years and lying about it being “necessary surgery”. And this is all done without any public awareness or scrutiny — it’s just a secret fiat from some nameless bureaucrat who is accountable to nobody. So much for the rule of law.

Fortunately, people are pushing back against this gross abuse of power. A lawsuit has been filed by the Dioceses of Albany and Ogdensburg, Catholic Charities agencies, religious communities, and a number of non-Catholic institutions, including the Episcopal Diocese of Albany. This lawsuit raises major issues about religious liberty, and how to put limits on an arbitrary, unaccountable government that is insistent on imposing morally offensive mandates on religious groups and people.

Don’t listen to the skeptics. The threat to freedom of religion is real and present. And it will not go away, because the pro-abortion ideology is so deeply ingrained in our state government that they will brook no opposition, and will use any available tactic, until they enshrine abortion in every area of the law and drag everyone into complicity with the destruction of the innocents.

Mercy for Everyone Involved in Abortion

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

[I was asked to contribute to an online forum about what the Church has to say to those involved in abortion. This is an expansion of my contribution]

When Pope Francis announced, as part of the preparation for the Jubilee of Mercy, that he was granting all priests around the world the faculty of forgiving the sin of abortion through the Sacrament of Confession, many people were confused. Some of the questions included, “Don’t priests already have that authority?” “DOes this mean that women who previously confessed, weren’t really absolved?” The news coverage, as usual, was embarassingly amateurish, and awful.

Fortunately, some sane voices offered explanations. Cardinal Dolan made clear that the priests of the Archdiocese of New York (like those in most, if not all dioceses of the United States) have long had this authority, and that people involved in abortion should rest assured that the mercy of God was always available to them.

One thing that I found interesting in all the discussion, was that people were speaking as if the only people involved in abortions were the mothers in crisis who sought them out. But there’s another group of people involved as well — abortionists, and the people who work in abortion clinics.

Over the past few months, we have seen the undercover videos that have exposed Planned Parenthood’s ghoulish trafficking in the body parts of aborted babies. We are naturally appalled, and angry. Our first impulse is to condemn, not just the ideologies that led them to act this way, but also the persons themselves.

This is where the Church — and through her, Jesus himself — enters the conversation.

Pope Francis’ has consistently stressed several basic Gospel messages — the call to encounter and accompany people, and the notion that realities are more important than ideas.

Too often we think of abortion situations through a particular frame — whether it’s the ideology of “reproductive choice” or pro-life principles — that keeps us on the level of ideas and can even de-humanize those we are dealing with. But we are not dealing with abstractions, but with people — not just the woman in crisis who entered that clinic and her vulnerable unborn child, but the clinic workers as well. And we must encounter them all as real human beings , including those who are performing abortions.

From this perspective, the Church can invite clinic workers and abortions to embrace what they really need deep down — a softening of their hearts through the mercy and love of God.  They can be led, perhaps by our compassion and prayer, to a conversion of heart so they can encounter the women and unborn children who come to their clinics as people, and not as clients or as raw biological materials.  If God’s grace can can bring them to that point, we can then accompany them on their path, offering prayer, love and practical help. Former clinic worker Abby Johnson’s ministry, And Then There Were None, is a very good example of this.

The message of the Church to those involved in performing abortion is the simple message of Jesus himself — an offer of mercy and an invitation to conversion: “You don’t have to be that way. There is another path, one that leads to happiness and peace. The message of mercy and a new life is for you too. We’re all on that same path. Come walk with us.”

Knowing and Caring

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

In the last few weeks, there have been a series of news stories about the horrific practices of the group I like to call the Temple of Moloch because of their devotion to the destruction of children — Planned Parenthood.

The videos were taken by a man who assumed a false identity so that he could meet with staff members of Planned Parenthood, to gain information about their practices of “harvesting” fetal tissue from aborted children. As an aside, I have previously expressed my opinion that these “undercover” tactics involve immoral acts of lying to the Planned Parenthood staff: see here  and here. The immorality of the undercover operation, however, does not affect the truth of what was exposed.

The videos expose yet another ugly face of abortion. The Planned Parenthood staff members coldly and callously discuss how they “harvest” organs and other tissue for use in experiments, and how they carefully maneuver to barely avoid violating federal laws against the sale of human tissue. If ever we wanted proof of the corrosive effect of sin on the human soul and character, these videos would be Exhibit One.

Many pro-lifers are hoping that these new revelations will be a landmark event, providing the public with irrefutable evidence of the evil of abortion and the humanity of unborn children. This, they hope, will turn the tide against the Culture of Death. I wish with all my heart for that to be true, but in order for that to happen, there’s one essential step that has to be taken.

People need to start caring.

It has been evident for many years, and certainly since routine ultrasounds for pregnant women, that people are either well aware of the humanity of the unborn child, or they are culpably blind to that fact.  The truth of what abortion does is clear for any to see, especially since the major debate over partial birth abortion two decades ago.  With the advent of the internet age, all the facts are out there, as easily accessible as a quick trip to Wikipedia.  Our lawmakers certainly know what abortion is and what it does — the various methods were even explicitly described in blood-chilling detail in a famous Supreme Court decision.

The problem really isn’t that people lack sufficient knowledge.  It’s that people just don’t care enough for things to change.

Our modern society is built on a foundation of sexual liberation.  Contraception, with abortion as a back-up method, is an essential component of that.  And the sad fact is that a majority of the American people are so committed to sexual liberty that they are willing to tolerate a massive number of abortions — almost 1 million each year.  They are also willing to provide massive amounts of money — over half a billion dollars of taxpayer money — to support Planned Parenthood, which kills over 300,000 children every year.

This can change.  People can declare that “enough is enough”.  They can show compassion for every human child, and for mothers in difficult situations. They can decide not to support legalized killing of children.  They can elect representatives who will change our laws.  They can reject death as the easy answer to all of our problems.

We already know all that we need to know.  We need to care.

The Radicalism of Roe v. Wade

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

During his tireless campaign to promote abortion here in New York, Governor Cuomo has repeatedly alleged that his Abortion Expansion Act would do nothing other than codify the law as established in Roe v. Wade in our state law.  Journalists and editorial boards have parroted this argument.

It’s essential that we grapple with this baseless claim, for several reasons.  One of the best ways to do so would be to pick up a copy of Clarke Forsythe’s new book, Abuse of Discretion.  In this very important work, Forsythe examines the shoddy, unprofessional way in which Justice Blackmun and his allies on the Supreme Court invented the holding in Roe without regard to basic principles of justice and fairness, and without any concern about the dangers to women that would come from legalizing abortion.

There are four important points that we should consider, so that we understand just how radical Roe really was, and thus how extreme the Governor’s proposal is.

First, we have to understand that the legal standard established in Roe was extremely liberal, and established a regime of abortion on demand, for all nine months of pregnancy, for any reason whatsoever.  Also, courts used it to strike down virtually every abortion regulation passed by state legislatures.

This can be seen clearly in the history of abortion decisions after Roe — virtually no regulations affecting abortion survived judicial scrutiny, including many common sense proposals like health and safety regulations and parental involvement laws. In essence, the entire abortion industry was exempted from any accountability or oversight.

Second, we also have to recognize that even the Supreme Court eventually backed away from the extremism of Roe, and eventually adopted a standard that permitted more leeway for states to regulate abortion. This led to the 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. In that case, the Court transformed the applicable legal standard in a way that made it possible for states to regulate abortion in more ways (e.g., by enacting bans of partial birth abortions, clinic health and safety regulations, etc.).

As a result, the governor’s proposal would actually enshrine the high-water mark of liberal abortion law, and ignore the subsequent legal developments that have pared that standard back towards a more reasonable system. It would lock in place an abortion law that is extremely permissive and hostile to any attempt to regulate or restrict the practice in any way.  It would create a system of abortion with impunity.

Third, we have to appreciate what a terrible piece of law Roe actually was — which speaks volumes about why we shouldn’t want anything to do with it here in New York.   I’m pretty cynical about what goes into judicial decisions, but even I was appalled at Forsythe’s account — backed by meticulous research — of the way that the Justices manipulated, schemed, and maneuvered in preparation for the Roe decision. They heedlessly took the case under false pretenses (supposing that it was to be decided on merely a procedural point of law), and disregarded the need for any facts about the nature and impact of abortion. They irresponsibly failed to consider the devastating impact their decision would have on public health as a result of invalidating every abortion law in the nation, and removing abortion from any possibility of further regulation.

Finally, and most importantly, Forsythe exposes, based on an astonishing number of scientific and medical studies, just how bad abortion on demand has been for women’s mental and physical health.   This includes short and long-term physical side effects and complications from the surgery, a correlation with a host of mental health problems, increased risks of breast cancer, plus the horrors that have occurred at unlicensed and unregulated clinics.  The simple fact is that abortion is not good for women.

This is the tragically misguided abortion regime that our Governor wishes to foist upon New York. I heartily recommend that people should read Clarke Forsythe’s excellent and important book, Abuse of Discretion, to understand just how radical, and how dangerous, that would be.

The Culture of Death and Lawlessness

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

The Culture of Death is a culture of lawlessness.  Once our nation violated the natural law by permitting the killing of innocents by abortion, it inevitably began to ignore or jettison other laws as well.  You can see this in what passes for Supreme Court “jurisprudence” on abortion, which has regularly invented Rube Goldberg-like legal arguments, twisted precedents, and distorted the meaning of language in order to perpetuate an unjust regime under which unborn children have no rights that our lawmakers are bound to respect.

News in the past few days has brought new evidence of the inherent lawlessness of the Culture of Death.  A report by the Congressional Accountability Office has revealed that the implementation of the Affordable Care Act has resulted in massive taxpayer subsidizing of elective abortion.

Remember, the Act was passed largely because of last-minute promises by the Administration.  They gave assurances that people would be able to buy plans that don’t cover elective abortions, and that no taxpayer funds would be used directly or indirectly to pay for elective abortions.  Health plans offered through the state exchanges would be permitted to cover abortion, but no taxpayer-funded subsidies were supposed to be used to buy coverage for elective abortion.  Insurers that covered elective abortions would be required to collect a separate payment from policy holders, in order to ensure that taxpayer subsidies did not pay for abortions.

Many of us doubted the sincerity of those promises at the time and were dubious of the Administration’s commitment to put them into practice.  Our pessimism has proven to have been right. The GAO’s report found the following:

  • Twenty-eight states allow insurance plans sold on their exchanges to cover abortion. In those 28 states, 1,036 plans include elective abortion coverage, while 1,062 only cover abortion in the case of rape, incest or to preserve the mother’s life.
  • Every single taxpayer-supported plan sold in New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Hawaii covers elective abortion.
  • Other states, including our own, are nearly as bad — in New York, 405 out of the 426 plans offered cover elective abortions. In Massachusetts, 109 out of 111 cover abortions. In California, 86 out of the 90 plans cover it.  In these large states, between 95% and 98% of plans cover elective abortion.
  • The GAO specifically interviewed 18 insurers, who offered three-quarters of the coverage in the twenty-eight states that allow abortion coverage.  Fifteen confirmed that they covered all abortions, none of them charged separately for abortion coverage, and none of them even itemized the coverage on their bills.
  • To put it plainly, the law is being ignored on a massive scale.  Every American taxpayer is now paying for elective abortion, and millions of pro-life Americans have no choice but to pay out of their own pockets for the death of innocents.

    So much for promises and assurances from this lawless Administration, whose commitment to the Cult of Moloch is absolute.

    The Culture of Death corrupts everything it touches.  It has corrupted our legal and medical professions, and the rule of law itself.

    A Welcome, Disappointing Decision

    Monday, June 30th, 2014

    Pro-Lifers rarely win court cases, so it is very gratifying to win one in the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, even in victory, there is disappointment, and a sense that the constitutional rights of pro-life people have been relegated to second-class status.

    The case was McCullen v. Coakley, and it arose out of a terrible Massachusetts law that established a 35-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics. Pro-lifers were prohibited from entering that zone, which effectively banned any attempt to speak to women seeking abortions (“sidewalk counseling”) completely. However — and this is crucial — abortion clinic staff were permitted to be in the zone and speak to the women who were approaching the clinic.

    The Supreme Court, by a unanimous decision, found that the law was unconstitutional. However, the Court’s unanimity is actually deceiving — although all nine justices agreed that the law was invalid, the Court was actually split 5 to 4 on the reasoning. And the reasoning of the majority is very troubling.

    One of the fundamental principles of the First Amendment guarantee of free speech is that the government cannot pass a law that is based on the content of a person’s speech, and that discriminates against one particular point of view. The principle is called “viewpoint neutrality”.  The majority found that the Massachusetts law did not violate the requirement of neutrality, but still found the law unconstitutional because it burdened speech more than was necessary to fulfill the government’s legitimate objectives.

    But that reasoning is gravely flawed.  Take it out of the abortion context for a second. Consider the hypothetical case of a law that places a buffer zone around a mine entrance where there is a highly contentious strike taking place. Imagine that the law prohibits striking miners from being in that zone, but allows management employees to be in the zone and speak openly to strike-breaking workers seeking to enter the plant. Can anyone imagine a court upholding such an obviously biased law? Of course not — it would be a clear case of the government taking sides in a strike, and showing favoritism towards one point of view.

    The Massachusetts statute is exactly the same, and is clearly not “viewpoint neutral”. It was specifically designed and intended to prosecute and deter only pro-life speakers, while giving pro-abortion speakers free reign to speak and act.

    Nevertheless, the majority of the Court, led by the Chief Justice, implausibly concluded that the law was “viewpoint neutral”, because on its face it did not single out pro-life speech. This is absurd — everybody understands very clearly what the goal and effect of this law is.  As Justice Scalia stated in his concurring opinion,

    The obvious purpose of the challenged portion of the Massachusetts Reproductive Health Care Facilities Act is to “protect” prospective clients of abortion clinics from having to hear abortion-opposing speech on public streets and sidewalks.

    In short, although the Court unanimously struck down the law, there is only a minority of Justices who believe that pro-lifers deserve the full protection of the Constitution. This follows a disturbing trend in the Supreme Court, in which abortion distorts the Constitution — indeed, abortion corrupts everything it touches.

    Again, to quote Justice Scalia:

    Today’s opinion carries forward this Court’s practice of giving abortion-rights advocates a pass when it comes to suppressing the free-speech rights of their opponents. There is an entirely separate, abridged edition of the First Amendment applicable to speech against abortion.

    So, while it’s good that we’ve won a big case, it’s clear that pro-lifers continue to be treated as second-class citizens in our courts.