Life Legal last week filed a short but powerful brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the Texas Heartbeat Act. The law allows any individual to sue an abortion provider who aborts a baby after the gestational age at which the baby’s heartbeat can be detected by ultrasound, which is usually around 4 to 6 weeks. Abortions in Texas are down by over 50% since the Heartbeat Act was enacted on September 1, saving thousands of lives.
The United States government sued the state of Texas to strike down the law, claiming the enforcement mechanism in the Texas law is an unconstitutional threat to the supremacy of federal law regarding abortion.
Life Legal’s response is simple. “The Supreme Court now has an opportunity to right a 48-year-old wrong: the stripping from states of their authority to protect the lives of innocent human beings within their borders.”
We argue that use of civil lawsuits as provided for in the Heartbeat Law is appropriate – and necessary – as, just a year ago, numerous Texas district attorneys pledged that they would not enforce any laws restricting abortion. The Texas Legislature wisely created another enforcement mechanism, civil suits by private citizens, to ensure that pro-abortion prosecutors could not nullify the will of the people.
We also support the provision that allows any individual to sue an abortionist who violates the law. Normally, the injured party would have standing to file a lawsuit, but in the case of abortion, the aggrieved party – the unborn baby – is dead. We each have a duty to respect the law and protect life. The Texas law provides a mechanism for every person to fulfill that obligation.
The Supreme Court heard oral argument in the government’s challenge to the Texas Heartbeat Act’s civil lawsuit provision on Monday, November 1. The United States is seeking a broad injunction to stop individuals from filing lawsuits that arise under the Texas Heartbeat Act and prohibit courts from hearing those suits. Justice Samuel Alito said such action would be “unprecedented” and that it would be “contrary to our system of federalism to enjoin a state judge even from hearing a case.”
Justice Neil Gorsuch was also troubled by the idea of an injunction against state court judges, saying this “would be a violation of the whole scheme of our government.” Gorsuch continued by asking why only abortion should get this unprecedented “special treatment.” “Why wouldn’t we do the same thing” for other rights, including First Amendment speech rights, “or the Second Amendment right or the right to free exercise of religion? [W]e don’t get to pick and choose among our rights. We’re supposed to enforce them all equally.”
In 1861, exactly 160 years ago, Alexander Stephens gave his “Cornerstone Speech” in which he argued that blacks and whites were inherently unequal and that blacks were therefore not entitled to equal privileges and rights. The speech was so titled because slavery was the cornerstone of the new confederacy. Every law, every principle, every natural right had to bow to the “right” of some people to view others as less than fully human.
In the same way, abortion is the cornerstone of our current administration and all who oppose restrictions on the killing of unborn babies. They will sacrifice every law, every principle, every natural right to retain the fabricated “right” to extinguish the lives of those they view as less than fully human.
We ended our brief to the Supreme Court with the words of John Donne:
“No man is an island entire of itself…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”