ERLC, SBTC Urge Court to Uphold Abortion Rules

Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, gives a report during the last session of the two-day June 16-17 SBC annual meeting at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio. Photo by Paul W. Lee
Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, gives a report during the last session of the two-day June 16-17 SBC annual meeting at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio. Photo by Paul W. Lee

The U.S. Supreme Court’s own decisions and the need for states to protect women’s lives call for the justices to uphold a Texas law that regulates abortion doctors and clinics, according to two Southern Baptist entities and other religious organizations.

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) joined the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) and four other groups in a friend-of-the-court brief filed Feb. 1 with the high court. The brief urges the justices to affirm a Texas measure that requires an abortion doctor to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital in case a woman needs emergency admission. The law also mandates abortion clinics must meet the health and safety standards of other walk-in surgical centers.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments March 2 to decide if the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans was correct in upholding most of the Texas measure.

If upheld by the high court over the objections of abortion rights organizations, the law would reduce the number of abortion facilities in Texas from what had been about 40 to fewer than 10. Such a decision by the justices also would have an impact in other states that have similar laws.

Southern Baptist leaders expressed their hopes the Supreme Court would find the law constitutional.

“The abortion lobby’s resistance to common-sense accountability measures should alarm everyone, on both sides of the political aisle,” ERLC President Russell Moore said in written comments for Baptist Press. “Abortion activists have claimed for years that protecting women from harm is their primary goal, but they are certainly on the wrong side of women’s health on this issue.”

His prayer, Moore said, is the court “will recognize the reasonableness of Texas’ measures and defend women and families.”

Gary Ledbetter of the SBTC, which supported the legislation during debate in the state, said the law “recognizes the right, even the obligation, of the state of Texas to regulate medical procedures in order to ensure a high level of care for all patients, without regard to the nature of their procedures.”

“Abortion providers seem to believe that they should be exempt from regulation because it would make a hardship on their ability to make a profit,” said Ledbetter, the SBTC’s director of communications and ministry relationships, in a written statement for BP. “Pro-life Americans reject this argument of those with a financial interest in being sheltered from reasonable regulation.”

The brief, written by lawyers for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), contends the law is consistent with Supreme Court decisions for more than four decades that give states the authority to protect the lives and health of women seeking abortions. Even the Roe v. Wade opinion, which legalized abortion in 1973, said states may adopt standards for abortion doctors and clinics, the brief offers. The brief quotes Roe:

“The State has a legitimate interest in seeing to it that abortion, like any other medical procedure, is performed under circumstances that insure maximum safety for the patient. This interest obviously extends at least to the performing physician and his staff, to the facilities involved, to the availability of aftercare, and to adequate provision for any complication or emergency that might arise.”

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SOURCE: Baptist Press
Tom Strode