The pro-life movement had a, dare I say, great week. It feels odd to write those words, but those words are truth. We won a landmark case this week as the Court ruled in the favor of NIFLA, California pregnancy centers, and free speech for everyone. I am not going to dissect that case today, but you can get a good summary of this victory here.
This win was followed up with more news from the Supreme Court as Justice Kennedy announced his retirement on June 27, 2018. Kennedy’s retirement was rumored for quite sometime, but no one knew for sure when those rumors would meet reality. This news coupled with the NIFLA case caps off an incredible week for life!
I realize that some may not understand the importance of Justice Kennedy’s retirement. He was appointed, after all, by one of the biggest stars of the Conservative movement, President Ronald Reagan. This is true, but in Kennedy’s time on the Court he did not prove to be the stalwart we hoped for on the issue of life. Instead, Kennedy’s tenure was one of great ups and downs as he became the swing vote on a whole host of issues. His record had many referring to the Supreme Court as “Kennedy’s Court” as his vote was the vote that ultimately decided the outcomes of cases.
This proved true back in 1992 in Casey v. Planned Parenthood. This case sought to challenge some of the restrictions placed on abortion by the state of Pennsylvania. Ultimately the Court decided that Roe v. Wade should be affirmed, which is what Planned Parenthood argued when they filed the lawsuit. Kennedy was instrumental in this ruling. His affirming of Roe v. Wade made many in the pro-life movement uncomfortable and concerned for the future.
It is important to note that the 1992 case, although affirming Roe, also created the “undue burden” test that allowed states to, in fact, legislate restrictions on abortion. This test is vague and has caused other court cases, but this test and the ability to restrict abortion at some level was, at the very least, a small step in the right direction for life. Yes, the Court did affirm Roe, but they also found that much of what Pennsylvania’s legislation did in 1992 was constitutional.
This is why the pro-life movement seemed giddy this week. For the first time, since 1992, we see a real possibility for a legitimate challenge to Roe v. Wade and the real possibility of seeing that decision overturned. The Court, with Kennedy, was basically a 5-4 Court in favor of abortion rights. Kennedy’s absence, however, with the right appointment, theoretically, would flip the 5-4 Court in favor of life. This would be a huge victory for life, our movement, and the American people.
It is important that we not get caught up in the current news and neglect the work of the day. The fact remains, since 1973 and the landmark case that gave us abortion, pregnancy centers have been serving and seeing countless lives saved in our buildings. This work will not stop with Kennedy’s retirement or with the overturning of Roe v. Wade. We must continue to serve and care for those that walk through our doors. The news in Washington doesn’t change the needs of our patients.
So we will work today, tomorrow, and next week to serve this city. Our patients aren’t asking us who serves on the Supreme Court or in the Oval Office. Instead, they are simply looking for assistance in their time of need. Assistance, mind you, that we are willing and able to provide.
I care deeply about the goings on in Washington, the Supreme Court, and the Oval Office. I will be engaged and involved as legislation and court decisions are made. I will also call for the overturning of Roe v. Wade as I long for a day where abortion is a footnote in the history books.
We should engage in this process, but this process should not overtake our mission to serve our patients for our hope is not placed in a Court or an office. No, our hope is placed in the author of life and the Creator of the universe. Celebrate these victories this week, but do so with a calm demeanor as we have much work to do and many to serve.
posted by Andrew Wood, Executive Director