'Silver lining' found in Supremes' rejection of abortion-pill challenge

 June 17, 2024

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

There's a "silver lining" in a new U.S. Supreme Court decision that otherwise might be viewed as a temporary setback for the pro-life movement.

That ruling, just days ago, said doctors and medical associations don't have standing to sue over the Food and Drug Administration's massive expansion of the availability of the deadly chemicals used for that abortion procedure.

The decision on a technicality means the court never got to the point of considering whether that expansion of access to the deadly chemicals, including allowing them to be mailed out to women, was right or not.

It is Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council who interviewed Erin Hawley, of the legal team at the ADF which argued for a review of the FDA's political activism.

Perkins pointed out that part of the reasoning from the government against continuing the case is that physicians with faith objections to abortion already are protected from being ordered to perform abortions.

The plaintiffs had noted that part of Joe Biden's pro-abortion advocacy was to redefine various words, thus requiring emergency room physicians to perform abortions, even in violation of their faith, if it is an "emergency."

That change has been attempted in multiple redefinitions of words and the like by Biden.

During the arguments, Hawley explained, "The solicitor general was crystal clear that these protections apply in emergencies in every setting."

"And the Supreme Court said, and I’m quoting here, 'The federal law fully protects doctors against being required to provide abortions or other medical treatment against their consciences.' And as you identified, that’s a huge win for religious liberty and freedom of conscience, because the Biden administration has been continually cutting back on those conscience protections. But because of the lawsuit brought … the government was forced to concede that those conscience protections exist, and they are robust," she explained.

Perkins described that was "a silver lining" in the court ruling in a dispute that remains far from over.

Perkins pointed out, "There are other states — I believe Missouri is one of the states, Idaho is one of those states — that [have] a separate lawsuit regarding the FDA and the abortion drug. Can you give us an update on what is different about their case and where it stands?"

Hawley explained, "So those three states, Missouri, Idaho, and Kansas, actually intervened in the lawsuit, so they are part of the case back at the district court. And those proceedings will go forward. Presumably, the Department of Justice will file a motion to dismiss the states also on standing grounds. But the states have very different standing arguments than our doctors, and so we’d expect and hope the states will raise those standing arguments — and we hope and expect that the federal courts will get to look at the merits of FDA’s decision."

She explained, "When you look at the 2021 removal of that last remaining in-person visit [as a requirement of the drug]… the FDA could not say that women would be safe without that in-person visit, and yet, they still removed that safeguard. So we are hoping, again, that the courts do have an opportunity to look into those merits. The Supreme Court didn’t, based on a legal technicality, but as you said, that has the silver lining of ensuring that there are robust conscience protections throughout the country so quickly."

Hawley pointed out that Joe Biden's lawyers, during the Supreme Court arguments, "actually took the position that no one has standing."

Specifically those Christian doctors.

"I think this is important for viewers to understand, is they said that the pro-life doctors in this case are protected by federal conscience protections, and that’s why they can’t sue. Now, these federal conscience protections did not exist according to the federal government [in lower court arguments]. The government told the federal courts that these protections did not apply in emergencies. Then they got to the Supreme Court, and they told the Supreme Court the exact opposite," Hawley explained.

"And that’s why the Supreme Court didn’t find standing where every other court to address the issue had. The Supreme Court was really clear that doctors do have standing to raise conscience rights. The federal conscience protections in federal law are broad and protect medical professionals from performing or participating in abortions, even in emergencies."

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