On June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-3 ruling in the abortion facility medical standards case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Deirdre McQuade, assistant director for pro-life communications at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, reacted to the loss.
“The Court has rejected a common-sense law protecting women from abortion facilities that put profits above patient safety,” McQuade said. “The law simply required abortion facilities to meet the same health and safety standards as other ambulatory surgical centers – standards like adequate staffing, soap dispensers, and basic sanitary conditions. It required abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, and that hallways be wide enough to allow emergency personnel through with stretchers, should a life-threatening emergency arise.”
“Abortion claims the lives of unborn children, and too often endangers their mothers, as well,” she added. “This ruling contradicts the consensus among medical groups that such measures protect women’s lives.”
On February 1, the USCCB’s General Counsel had filed an amicus curiae brief calling for the law to be upheld on behalf of USCCB, the Texas Catholic Conference, and several other Christian partners.
Note: Pennsylvania law requires surgical abortion facilities to satisfy ambulatory surgical facility (“ASF”) standards. The Supreme Court decision on June 27 about the Texas law does not void the 2011 Pennsylvania law. Unlike the Texas law, which was inflexible, the Pennsylvania law allows for some waivers. That may be an important distinction. It is possible that the Pennsylvania law will be challenged in the courts by pro-abortion activists. One State Senator has said he will introduce a bill to repeal the Pennsylvania law. For the time being, the Pennsylvania Department of Health should continue to apply ASF standards to abortion facilities. PCC will post updates when available.