Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, together with Wyoming’s lone Representative Liz Cheney, joined 206 other legislators from both parties asking the Supreme Court to uphold a 2014 law from the state of Louisiana. Their primary argument is that June Medical Services LLC lacks legitimate standing to sue Louisiana.
To understand their point, think about a restaurant with a history of health violations. How many violations of basic health codes, how many instances of customers getting sick from contaminated food would be acceptable? Would you want to know about its failures? Would you expect the licensing board to make and enforce policies to protect the public from its unhealthy practices?
Now, what would you think if that restaurant sued the state for enforcing health regulations? Worse, what if it sued, not in its capacity as a dining establishment, but as though it is a champion for the health of its customers? While conceding that it is an unhealthy and unsafe establishment, it complains that basic hygiene standards are an “undue burden.” It claims that poor, unsuspecting diners might be deprived of its germ-infected food if the new policies go into effect. That’s chutzpah!
That, essentially, is what June Medical Services has done to the state of Louisiana. This corporation has a 10-year history of substandard patient care. The Louisiana state Department of Health has documented dozens of instances of unsanitary, expired, missing and improperly stored instruments, medications and medical supplies. June Medical has repeatedly subjected unsuspecting patients to the hands of unlicensed and uncredentialed medical staff.
Far more than mere technicalities, these violations have resulted in repeated injury to patients and violations of patient rights. Similarly, other clinics in Louisiana violated laws that require the reporting of child abuse. In 2009 and 2011 Delta Clinic in Baton Rouge failed to report instances of incest and child rape. Girls who should have been given help were, instead, sent home to their rapists.
Patients were put out on the street before they were medically stable. They were medicated by incompetent and unqualified staff. Minors underwent surgery without parental consent. Last year, a patient was forced to undergo an unplanned hysterectomy. Due to medical incompetence, she has lost the choice ever to have a child.
The list of atrocities goes on and on. If this sounds similar to the laundry list of violations that preceded Kermit Gosnell’s murder conviction in Philadelphia, it should come as no surprise. Leroy Brinkley, operator of Delta Clinic in Baton Rouge, used to employ Gosnell as an independent contractor.
How is it possible that so many violations and unsafe procedures could be perpetrated on the people of Louisiana for decades? In large part, it is because June Medical, and outpatient surgical centers like it, were exempted from the standard certification requirements that applied to all other outpatient surgical centers.
It is this loophole in public safety laws that Louisiana closed in 2014. Democrat Representative Katrina Monroe proposed the legislation to protect the women of Louisiana. It passed their House 85-6 and their Senate 34-3.
The law recognized that, when it comes to safe health practices, the interests of for-profit abortion mills and Louisiana’s women are in conflict. For the sake of women, the state Department of Health has a legitimate interest in requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. So, how does it make sense that the clinics can sue to overturn the law on the pretense that they represent the interests of women?
That question is the main thrust of a friend-of-the-court (amicus) brief filed by over 200 legislators — including all three of Wyoming’s congressional delegation. The first 21 pages of the 35-page brief argue this point.
The following eight pages argue a second point. Here the legislators simply agree that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals was right to uphold Louisiana’s law. They “strongly urge the Court to uphold the decision [of the Fifth Circuit] and to provide clarity regarding the bounds of the Government’s ability to safeguard the lives and health of their citizens.”
The third and final section of the amicus spends five pages documenting 47 years of confusing and self-contradictory opinions from the Supreme Court. The confusion has come from the court’s vacillating between two contradictory interests — the interests of abortionists and the interests of women.
On the one hand, it is undeniable that states have a legitimate interest in ensuring that physicians and clinics be held to basic standards of care. State policies about cleanliness, certifications, inspections, documentation and licensing for medical facilities and practitioners should benefit all patients, and not exclude the entire abortion industry.
On the other hand, Planned Parenthood, NARAL and various abortion mills hang an “anti-abortion” label on any and every attempt to make abortion clinics safer. Thus, they have prevailed on the court to exempt themselves from patient-centered legislation. Unlike any other industry, the court blindly assumes that the interest of abortionists is identical to the interest of those who enter their clinics.
Last week the Wyoming Tribune Eagle published an article titled, “Delegation signs on to call for Roe v. Wade review.” Nick Reynolds, reporter for the Casper Star-Tribune, managed to write this entire article without ever once hinting at the unsanitary, dangerous and illegal activities at the heart of the lawsuit.
Clearly Reynolds read the same brief that I did. He quoted from it. How, then, could he completely omit any discussion of the first 29 pages of a 35-page brief? Is this the kind of responsible and informative reporting that Wyoming deserves?
Reynolds can only see the brief as “anti-abortion.” He seems completely deaf to its pro-women argument. Worse still, he lists Rep. Cheney’s stance against the killing of a newborn child as “against abortion.” That is utterly frightening. How old does a child have to be before it is beyond the reach of abortion?
At least he recognizes that there are two people involved in every abortion. There is the child who is being destroyed and there is the woman who is undergoing an invasive surgical procedure. Acknowledging both gives us a place to begin the discussion.
Both federal law and Wyoming statute recognize the person who is born to have the full protection of the law. Enforcing this law with just and effective penalties ought not to be counted as “anti-abortion.” It is, rather, simply humane.
As for the child before he is born, extreme politicians and their media enablers can only focus on making it cheaper and quicker to destroy him. They should pause at least long enough to recognize that a woman is also involved. The single-minded focus on that child should not overpower the interest of the woman to have the full protection of public health laws.
Surely, we can agree on that, at the very least. Wyoming’s congressional delegation signed on to a brief that supported women while simultaneously asking the court to address the confusion caused by 47 years of contradiction. For that Wyoming should be extremely grateful.
Jonathan Lange is an LCMS pastor in Evanston and Kemmerer and serves the Wyoming Pastors Network. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow his blog at OnlyHuman-JL.blogspot.com.