Tag archives: The Supreme Court

Fact Check: 5 False Claims Corrected in the Dobbs Oral Arguments

by Mary Szoch

December 14, 2021

On December 1, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that poses the best chance in over a generation to overturn Roe v. Wade. Julie Rickelman, senior director of U.S. litigation for the Center for Reproductive Rights, argued that the Court should strike down Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act—the bipartisan legislation banning abortion after 15 weeks that was at issue in the case.

Although Rickelman’s arguments occasionally aligned with the truth, the majority of what she said does not pass a fact check. Let’s examine several of those claims.

Claim #1: Justice Roberts questioned whether a 15-week ban on abortion, as opposed to a ban at the point of viability (generally set at 22-24 weeks gestation), would have a severely negative impact on women in their place in society. Rickelman responded by stating, “People who need abortion after 15 weeks are most often in the most challenging circumstances… In fact, the data has been very clear over the last 50 years that abortion has been critical to women’s equal participation in society.”

  • The Truth: In Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, a publication of the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, the authors acknowledge that women seeking late-term abortions do so for the same reasons women receive earlier abortions—“stressful circumstances of unprepared pregnancy, single-motherhood, financial pressure, and relationship discord.” Killing a child is not the solution to challenging circumstances.

Claim #2: Justice Roberts mentioned that the list of countries that do not ban abortion prior to viability includes North Korea and China. Rickelman responded, “First that’s not correct about international law. In fact, the majority of countries that permit legal access to abortion allow access right up until viability… So, for example, Canada, Great Britain and most of Europe allows access to abortion right up until viability…”

  • The Truth: Across the globe, only six countries allow abortion throughout the entirety of pregnancy—North Korea, China, Vietnam, South Korea, Canada, and the United States. While Rickelman was correct that Canada and the United Kingdom offer abortion up until viability, she was wrong in characterizing that as typical for Europe. In fact, only two countries in Europe (the United Kingdom and Finland) allow abortion for “broad social reasons” or “socioeconomic reasons.” Around the world, 100 countries completely outlaw abortion or only allow abortion to protect the life of the mother or in cases of rape, incest, or fetal abnormality.

Claim #3: Justice Gorsuch asked Rickelman whether the “undue burden” standard is unworkable. Rickelman replied, “The only thing that’s at issue in this case is the viability line, and the viability line has been enduringly workable. The lower federal courts have applied it consistently and uniformly for 50 years. And the Fifth Circuit here below had no difficulty striking down this law unanimously, 3-0. So it’s been an exceedingly workable standard.”

  • The Truth: The viability line has shifted from 28 weeks when Roe was decided in 1973 to 22-24 weeks today. Multiple babies have even survived at 21 weeks. Viability is not a standard that can be uniformly applied because it varies from person to person. Characterizing viability as an “exceedingly workable standard” is either wishful thinking or willful ignorance.

Claim #4: Justice Alito questioned Rickelman about her defense of the viability line. He asked, “The fetus has an interest in having a life, and that doesn’t change, does it, from the point before viability to the point after viability?” Rickelman ultimately responded, “It [the viability standard] is principled because, in ordering the interests at stake, the Court had to set a line between conception and birth, and it logically looked at the fetus’ ability to survive separately as a legal line because it’s objectively verifiable and doesn’t require the Court to resolve the philosophical issues at stake.”

  • The Truth: The matter of an unborn child being a human being is not a “philosophical issue”; it is a scientific fact. Furthermore, at no point in time do babies—born or unborn (or countless fully grown adults)—have the ability to “survive separately,” so if Rickelman actually believes that the Court’s line where a person has the ability to “survive separately” is the logical point before which a person can be killed—she is endorsing abortion, infanticide, and the right to kill anyone who cannot survive on their own.

Claim #5: In an exchange with Justice Alito, Rickelman claimed that access to abortion is part of the American tradition. She said, “At the founding, women were able to end their pregnancy under the common law. And, in fact, this Court… specifically called out and relied on Roe’s conclusion that at the time of the founding and well into the 1800s, women had the ability to end a pregnancy.”

  • The Truth: Multiple amicus briefs were filed proving the opposite. The Thomas More Society noted that English common law originally followed in the American colonies considered abortion after “quickening” as a serious crime, and early state laws made abortion throughout pregnancy criminal. As Josh Craddock pointed out in his seminal piece, “Protecting Prenatal Persons: Does the Fourteenth Amendment Prohibit Abortion?” published in Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, “quickening” was used to protect prenatal life as soon as it could be discerned—not to exclude life prior to that moment. In other words, at the time of the American founding, once there was evidence of life in the womb, it was protected. Professors Mary Ann Glendon and O. Carter Snead echoed this argument.

    Craddock also noted that by the time of ratification of the 14th Amendment, which is used to justify the “right to privacy” under which abortion is legalized, not only did common-law and state practice protect the unborn, but dictionaries used “person” and “human being” interchangeably, and the authors of the 14th Amendment expected it to especially protect the weak and marginalized. Esteemed legal scholars John Finnis and Robert George, as well as Lee Strang, submitted amicus briefs arguing along the same line of thought.

As we pray for the outcome in Dobbs, let us also pray for Julie Rickelman—that this brilliant woman will seek the truth and one day use her God-given gifts to defend life.

10 Things You Can Do to Defend the Unborn Ahead of Dobbs

by Mary Szoch

November 22, 2021

On December 1, the U.S. Supreme Court will begin hearing oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health. This case concerns the constitutionality of Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act, which prohibits elective abortion after 15 weeks—nine weeks before the 24-week “point of viability” (i.e., the gestational age when a baby is generally considered capable of surviving outside the mother’s womb). Because Mississippi’s law directly challenges the abortion jurisprudence of Roe v. Wade, the Dobbs case presents the greatest opportunity to overturn Roe since the decision was first handed down in 1973.

Although it will be Scott Stewart, the solicitor general of Mississippi, who will be presenting the arguments in defense of the unborn before the Supreme Court, everyone has a part to play in this upcoming case.

Here is a list of 10 things that you can do to build a culture of life as we await the oral arguments and eventual ruling in Dobbs:

1. Pray.

The most important thing you can do leading up to the Dobbs case is to pray. To help you get started, Family Research Council has compiled a helpful prayer guide, available here. Consider praying with a friend outside an abortion facility and joining FRC for our upcoming prayer event (details below).

On Sunday, November 28, FRC will be hosting Pray Together for Life, a national prayer gathering at New Horizon Church in Jackson, Miss. The purpose of this non-partisan event will be a unified prayer meeting of the body of Christ with the sole focus on praying for the restoration of the sanctity of life in America, beginning with the unborn. We hope you will join us, either in person or online, at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT. You can register here.

For additional prayer resources, visit: PrayForDobbs.com  

2. Discern whether your family is being called to adopt.

If Roe is overturned, there will likely be more babies in need of parents. As members of the pro-life community, we should all discern whether God is calling us to radically love others by opening our home to a child in need. Focus on the Family provides a number of helpful resources on this topic.

3. Support a Pregnancy Resource Center.

In 2019, Pregnancy Resource Centers (PRCs) nationwide served almost two million people and provided nearly $270 million in services at virtually no charge. PRCs operate largely through the generosity of volunteers and donors. Their work truly makes a difference in the lives of millions, and if Dobbs overturns Roe, there will be much more work for PRCs to do. You can locate the PRCs near you here.

4. Support single moms.

Even though being a mom is incredibly rewarding, it is also incredibly challenging. Lost fatherhood brings additional hurdles for raising a child, which is why community support for single mothers is all the more important. Support single moms you know in practical ways like making a meal for the family or offering to babysit. Being pro-life means working to create a culture of life!

5. Befriend a person with disabilities.

Invite someone in your community with disabilities to get coffee or play a sport. Babies prenatally diagnosed with genetic abnormalities are aborted at alarming rates. Combat this by creating a culture where everyone is welcome.

6. Share information about the dangers of chemical abortion and about the option of abortion pill reversal.

With known complications including severe bleeding, infection, retained fetal parts, and even death, chemical abortion (more commonly known as “the abortion pill”) is nearly four times more dangerous than already dangerous surgical abortion procedures. In some cases, if only the first of the two pills in the abortion pill regimen has been taken, this type of abortion can be reversed. For more information, visit: AbortionPillReversal.com. Sharing this message could save a life.

7. Talk to a friend about her abortion views.

Most of us have a friend who does not share our views on the dignity of the unborn child. It can be challenging to have conversations surrounding abortion but making this effort can create a ripple effect that stretches far beyond your own influence. This FRC resource provides talking points and stories to help you get the conversation flowing.

8. Share information about Project Rachel.

For many women, the pain and guilt after an abortion are incredibly difficult to bear. Project Rachel is a nationwide ministry providing women with the assurance that there can be forgiveness, hope, and healing after abortion. It is open to all women, including women of no faith. Project Rachel’s website is HopeAfterAbortion.org or EsperanzaPosAborto.org.

9. Let your friends know you are a safe person to talk to.

Post a message on social media letting your friends know that if they find themselves unexpectedly pregnant, you’re a safe, supportive, and loving person to talk to. This might be all the encouragement someone needs to choose life.

10. Support pro-life state legislators and legislation.

Electing pro-life state legislators is critical to ending the scourge of abortion in America. If the Dobbs case overturns Roe, the question of abortion legality would most likely return to where it was before Roe—the individual states. It is essential that the states are equipped with pro-life legislators to pass pro-life laws. When legislators introduce pro-life legislation, pro-lifers must be supportive of the effort by calling and e-mailing their elected officials.

Texas Lives Wouldn’t Be On the Line if Trump Were President

by Katherine Beck Johnson

November 4, 2021

The saying “Elections have consequences” might be a cliché—but it’s true. And those consequences have proven to be a matter of life and death for the unborn in Texas.

President Trump vowed to be a pro-life president, and he was. President Trump delivered on his pro-life promises. President Biden, who campaigned on a platform supporting abortion, has delivered on his promises, too, and his current crusade against the Texas Heartbeat Act has become the clearest evidence of why we need a pro-life president. A president can wield tremendous power either to protect or harm the unborn.

Texas recently passed a law that restricts abortion after a heartbeat has been detected in the unborn child (usually around six weeks). Planned Parenthood sued, and its petition went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court rejected Planned Parenthood’s emergency injunction request, and this allowed the Texas law to remain in effect. It has been estimated that over 100 lives are being saved in Texas every day as a result of this law.

Under President Trump, this could have been the end of the story as far as emergency challenges to this law. Planned Parenthood had nobody to sue, and unborn lives would have continued being saved in Texas. Under President Trump, the Supreme Court likely would not have taken the extraordinary step of granting cert before judgment. While impossible to know, it is most likely that the United States intervening breathed new life and power into this case for the abortionist. The pro-abortion Biden administration ensured this was not the end of the story. Biden promised to use all of the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) power and resources to go after Texas’s pro-life law. Biden’s DOJ sued over the law, and now it’s up to the U.S. Supreme Court to determine whether the federal government can intervene to block Texas’ law.

This week’s oral arguments concerning the Texas law did not go particularly well for the pro-life side. It’s too soon to tell how the justices will rule, and there’s no guaranteed timeframe for an opinion. So we will have to wait and see, but it does not look promising. The fight at the Supreme Court is one that never should have happened, and it’s a fight that the pro-life side might very well lose.

Some Americans mistakenly think that the president is powerless to do anything about abortion, that pro-life policy can’t get anywhere because of Roe v. Wade. But Texas offered a perfect example of why we need a pro-life president in the Oval Office at all times. We don’t know when various pro-life opportunities, such as Texas’s Heartbeat Act, will come up. But when they do, we need people in office who are committed to being pro-life, not those who fight against pro-life policies.

Personal views, donors, and political party affiliation all play a major role in a president’s approach towards pro-life laws and policies. Another key aspect is personnel. Biden has made sure to fill up his executive agencies—especially powerful ones such as the DOJ and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)—with strong abortion supporters. These people have ensured that the Biden administration will be the most pro-abortion administration in our nation’s history.

At least one of the cases involving Texas’ Heartbeat Act would not have been at the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday if Trump had won. President Trump would have supported Texas in its fight to protect the unborn. If your number one issue is protecting the most vulnerable people in our society—children in the womb—it’s crucial that you cast your ballot for pro-life candidates whenever they are running against candidates who support abortion. Lives depend on it.

Freedom Rising

by Robert Morrison

July 2, 2012

I was standing in the room where Abraham Lincoln drafted the Emancipation Proclamation when I heard the news. I was visiting the Lincoln Cottage with some good friends from Scottsdale, Arizona, when we got the word: The Supreme Court had upheld President Obama’s takeover of health care and John Roberts had written the majority opinion. I was shocked. My first thought: Now all Americans’ freedom is in danger. The good work of President Lincoln in jeopardy. A government of the people, by the people, for the people cannot be reconciled with an all-embracing health control regime that issues mandates.

Some conservatives are taking consolation from the thought that Roberts said no to using the Commerce Clause as a means to bind us by government edicts. This is cold consolation. If Congress can do this through its taxing power, what can it not do? All a Pelosi Congress would have to do is to define an activity, craft a penalty for Americans not engaging in that activity, and have it upheld under this precedent as a tax. How can this measure be a tax when those who wrote it, those who introduced it, those who defended it, and those who voted to pass it, all vehemently denied that it was a tax? And if it is a tax, why did it not have to originate in the House of Representatives? My copy of the Heritage Guide to the Constitution makes it clear the Founders wanted to keep “power of the purse” in people’s House as a check on the power of the more aristocratic Senate.

Is this too silly an obstacle? Is this too basic? John Roberts muffed the administering of the Oath of Office to President Obama. Might we imagine he overlooked this little detail, as well?

My friends are telling me that this volte-face by Roberts is “not as bad as Souter.” Really? I was in the room when Souter was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. I remember well looking over to pro-life friends as they shrugged their shoulders. Souter was a blank slate. This non-entity, this squirrelly recluse from the New Hampshire woods, was never a man in whom we placed any hope or confidence. And when this nowhere man was confirmed, I crossed my fingers, hoping that Gov. Sununu of the Granite State knew better than we did.

I was soon disabused, however. The Saturday after he was confirmed, my wife handed me a clipping from the Washington Post “Style” section. It said Justice David Souter had asked the clerk at the supermarket in his new Georgetown neighborhood if the can of tuna he had purchased was “dolphin safe.” Instantly, my heart sank and I knew that the fate of millions of unborn children had been sealed. Souter left Washington after twenty dismal years here, unsung and unhung.

We were assured by staunch Reaganauts that John Roberts was a committed and fearless constitutionalist. We did not expect that he would in every case rule as we would have him rule. Still, we respected his intellectual integrity. No one in 2005 dreamed that he would re-write the greatest power grab in American history in order to find it constitutional. The tortured logic of the Roberts ruling defies history and reason. And it gives every impression of having been cobbled together at the last minute in some feckless attempt to prove the Court is not partisan.

The Court should be partisan—for ordered liberty, for the rule of law, for the Constitution itself. What Roberts has achieved with this dog’s breakfast of a ruling will only hold the Court up for renewed scorn. After nearly forty years of Roe v. Wade, after the slaughter of fifty-five million innocents, one might have thought there were more important considerations in the minds of a learned jurist than the prestige of his “eminent tribunal.” Apparently not.

Many political commentators are giving Roberts credit for playing chess while we mere mortals play poker. He is being described as a clever Machiavellian who knows how to energize the conservative base for the November elections.

If that is true, why should we respect him as the honest and dispassionate “umpire” he vowed under oath that he would be? His duty was to rule whether this law could be reconciled with the Constitution we revere. He failed manifestly do to so. If any of the kudos bestowed on him as a supreme politician are true, the sense of betrayal would only be sharper. The British have a saying that applies here: “Too clever by half.”

We Americans might instead identify with Theodore Roosevelt’s keen disappointment in one of his chosen justices: “I could carve out of a banana a judge with more backbone than that!”

We have no choice now but to replace those who crafted this legislative power grab, repeal the health care takeover, and restore the Constitution as the the Great Charter that guarantees the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

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