One current Supreme Court case stands at the center of the abortion debate in America — Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, a legal challenge brought by Texas abortion providers claiming state safety regulations of abortion centers are "unconstitutional."
State Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, who authored the Texas pro-life law under scrutiny, has seen conflict erupt nationally over what she calls "common sense medical safety standards." On May 16, Laubenberg briefed the national prayer coalition Texas Loves Life via conference call.
"The coalition Texas Loves Life exists solely to pray for the Supreme Court, believing for life to be upheld as the court considers this important Texas pro-life law," says Matt Lockett of Bound4LIFE International. "We are thrilled to have Representative Laubenberg share her considerable expertise with people of faith who stand on the power of prayer."
Recent coalition conference calls, primarily featuring pro-life leaders in Texas, are available online and reveal surprising insights into this ongoing court case.
1. According to a leading survey, the Texas law has saved 40,000 lives since enacted.
Formerly an abortion clinic director, Carol Everett now serves as president of The Heidi Group — one of the state's largest pregnancy care center networks.
"We recently surveyed our network of 183 life-affirming pregnancy centers in Texas, who reported increases as high as 300 percent of women using our ultrasound and other services," said Everett.
She continued, "Working from that detailed survey, we estimate at least 40,000 lives have been saved in Texas since HB 2 was enacted in 2013."
2. This case is about whether the abortion industry should have any regulations.
Recognizing the importance of this case, 174 members of the U.S. Congress signed on to an amicus brief in support of the Texas pro-life law. Zach West, legal counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee and lead author of the brief, addressed pro-life prayer leaders on one of the first calls.
"This is the first case in about ten years that is significant to abortion policy; the last major case was in 2007," reported West. "We're going to see if the Supreme Court is actually serious in the language it has used in the past, indicating that the abortion industry is not free and immune from health regulations."
West summed up the key question before the Supreme Court: "Can the abortion industry be regulated, or are they untouchable? This law isn't asking very much. The state legislature should be able to determine whether abortion providers are excepted from health laws that protect women."
3. Planned Parenthood has been staging events in Texas to sway public opinion.
Paul Nelson, who leads a weekly pro-life prayer gathering at the World Prayer Center in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, relayed headlines he has seen in Texas media on the latest conference call.
"Cecile Richards, the President of Planned Parenthood, has not backed down at all. She has been here in Texas, stirring up people to try to shift public opinion against this pro-life law. She has been working hard on behalf of the views she holds," said Nelson.
Nelson also noted: "I'm thankful for Bound4LIFE, which rallied us back into formation to pray for this case. The battle is not over."
4. Clinics have shut down because they chose economic benefit over patient safety.
"All the way up to the Supreme Court, pro-abortion groups are challenging these basic health and safety standards," recounted Nicole Hudgens, policy analyst for state-based group Texas Values, referring to the battle over HB 2.
"The real reason why abortion clinics are shutting down in Texas is because the clinics and the abortionists are choosing economic benefit over women's health and safety," she stated.
Hudgens continued, "We care about the child in the womb, but we also care about the mother who is carrying that child. That's why this law is so important. We at Texas Values know this law, fully enacted, will help prevent another woman from dying in a sub-standard abortion facility."
5. Once before, Justice Kennedy changed his vote at the last minute on a crucial case.
Allan Parker, President of The Justice Foundation, recalled 1992 abortion policy case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, saying, "Shortly after oral argument, the justices meet again together and take a preliminary vote. On that day in 1992, Justice Anthony Kennedy initially voted with the majority to reverse Roe v. Wade and eliminate abortion as a constitutional right."
"After the vote is taken, then the justices begin to write their opinions. This is the phase that the current court is in," Parker continued. "The judges are free to change their minds; something in the written documents may alter their thinking or discussion of the justices may lead to consensus."
About the 1992 case, Parker concluded, "Several months after Casey was argued, Justice Kennedy changed his mind. He did not go back all the way to upholding abortion as an absolute right — which is actually what they're asking him to do in this case, to strike down all state regulations on abortion. Kennedy changed, and all of the justices are allowed to do that until the decision is announced."
The eight Supreme Court justices continue to deliberate this case, with a decision expected to be released by the end of June. National pro-life and prayer groups have participated in the Texas Loves Life coalition, including 40 Days for Life, Students for Life of America and United Cry.