Parliamentary Network E-News

Volume 15
No. 11
November, 2021
Focus on the United States

Supreme Court to Hear Arguments on Law Banning Abortion after 15 Weeks

On December 1, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) will begin hearing arguments in a case on the constitutionality of Mississippi's law banning most abortions after 15 weeks as it considers Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The Court will consider the question “Whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional” during what is considered to be the biggest abortion case in decades.
The case centers on Mississippi’s law known as H.B.1510 or the Gestational Age Act which was passed in 2018 and bans nearly all abortions after 15 weeks except those for “severe fetal abnormality”. Thomas E. Dobbs is the State Health Officer of the Mississippi Department of Health and Jackson Women’s Health Organization is the only licensed abortion provider in the state which, along with one of its doctors, challenged the constitutionality of the law in federal court represented by abortion lawyers from the Center for Reproductive Rights.
Mississippi argues: “On a sound understanding of the Constitution, the answer to the question presented in this case is clear and the path to that answer is straight. Under the Constitution, may a State prohibit elective abortions before viability? Yes. Why? Because nothing in constitutional text, structure, history, or tradition supports a right to abortion. A prohibition on elective abortions is therefore constitutional if it satisfies the rational-basis review that applies to all laws.”
A federal district court had blocked Mississippi from enforcing the law, a decision which was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit resulting in Mississippi taking the case to the Supreme Court; the Court announced in May that it would hear the case. Currently, under the Court’s ruling in Roe, states are prohibited from protecting unborn babies from abortion before viability, determined at the time to be 24 weeks of pregnancy.
The Supreme Court had received 1,125 amicus briefs as of September, 2021 with many more filed since that date. 228 Members of Congress, 44 Senators and 184 Members of the House of Representatives, filed a friend of the Court brief written by AUL and advanced in Congress by the Mississippi congressional delegation and the House Pro-Life Caucus. In the amicus brief, the lawmakers ask the Court "to side with the state to 'affirm the constitutional authority of the federal and state governments to safeguard the lives and health of their citizens, born and not yet born.”
The Members of Congress state, "Mississippi’s case provides the Court a chance to release its vise grip on abortion politics, as Congress and the States have shown that they are ready and able to address the issue in ways that reflect Americans’ varying viewpoints and are grounded in the science of fetal development and maternal health. The States have expressed the desire to protect life through a burgeoning number of laws enacted to further the States’ important interests in protecting women from dangerous late-term abortion, ending the destruction of human life based on sexism, racism, or ableism, upholding the integrity of the medical profession against the barbaric practice of dismembering human beings in the womb, and protecting preborn infants from the horrific pain of such abortions."
When the brief was filed, Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker said, “Mississippi is at the forefront of the fight for life, and I am glad to lead the charge in Congress on behalf of the unborn. For too long, the precedents of Roe and Casey have prevented states from taking meaningful steps to protect life in the womb. My colleagues and I are urging the Supreme Court to correct these decades of injustice.”
Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith also from Mississippi stated, “In taking up Mississippi’s pro-life law, the Supreme Court has a chance to reconsider the current misguided abortion jurisprudence. As a Senator, as a woman, and as a mother, I think this case offers us a chance to overturn Roe and return the abortion issue to the political process and away from activist judges. I am thankful so many of my colleagues are standing with Mississippi and against unlimited abortion on demand in this case.”
House Pro-life Caucus Co-Chair Chris Smith said, “In this multi-member filing, we urge the Court to affirm that federal and state governments are free to pass laws that protect children alive but not yet born. It’s time to recognize what abortion is: the killing of an unborn child through suction, dismemberment, or chemical poisoning. In the 48 years since the infamous Supreme Court decisions legalizing abortion-on-demand throughout pregnancy, more than 62.5 million unborn lives have been lost. The humanity of the unborn is undeniable, and this case is a crucial opportunity to recognize that states have a compelling interest in regulating abortion prior to viability.”
Pro-life organizations in the U.S. have been mobilizing in support of Dobbs including by submitting friend of the court briefs. Fr Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, highlighted the humanity of the unborn child in an op-ed stating: “So many changes have occurred over these five decades: changes in medicine that have allowed us to know the unborn child better than ever before; growing evidence of how abortion is harmful to women and to society; the recognition that pregnancy is no longer the kind of damaging burden or impossible roadblock to one’s education and career that it was in the 1970s and before, along with an increasing acceptance of single parenting, more accommodations for pregnant employees, and nationwide Safe Haven laws that allow mothers to surrender their newborns without fear of legal repercussions. Together, the briefs are saying to the Court, it’s time to reverse Roe.”
The Dobbs case highlights the radically extreme abortion laws in the United States compared to abortion laws around the world. It stands with China, North Korea, Vietnam, Canada, Netherlands (24 weeks) and Singapore (24 weeks) in allowing elective abortion on demand after 20 weeks of pregnancy. However, most countries around the world have laws that protect children in the womb from elective abortion after the first trimester, if not sooner. The Center for Reproductive Rights—while arguing against Mississippi’s ban at 15 weeks— details the world’s abortion laws on its World Abortion Laws map listing the 72 countries worldwide that allow “abortion on request” explaining “the most common gestational limit for countries in this category is 12 weeks.”
An in-depth analysis of the possible outcomes by SCOTUS can be found Americans for Life (AUL) website- What to Expect in the Supreme Court Oral Argument in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

House Passes Funding for Biden’s Agenda Minus Pro-Life Protections

The House of Representatives passed a bill funding President Biden’s social and environmental agenda known as the Build Back Better Act, H.R. 5376 , by a vote of 220 - 213 with one Democrat voting “No” along with all Republican Members. The $2 trillion bill has major pro-life concerns including failure to include the long-standing Hyde Amendment banning use of tax dollars for abortion. House Republican leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy said, “This Socialist Spending Scam abandons the longstanding, bipartisan Hyde Amendment, allowing for taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand and violating the rights of conscience of millions of Americans. That alone is reason enough to defeat the bill.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed that the $2 trillion bill does not contain language blocking the use of taxpayer funds for abortions when asked by a reporter if the Hyde Amendment was in the bill she replied: “It’s not in the bill. It’s not in the bill.”
Rep. Chris Smith, chair of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus highlighted some of the pro-life concerns on the House floor. He explained that the bill does not include any of the long-standing bans on taxpayer-funded abortions and if passed by the Senate and enacted into law Americans could be forced to pay for the killing of unborn babies in elective abortions both in the United States and in other countries. The Hyde and Helms amendments have been included in budget bills since the 1970’s restricting the use of taxpayer funds for elective abortions in the U.S. (Hyde) and around the world (Helms).
The congressional pro-life leader called it “shocking” that Democrats removed the Hyde Amendment and other measures that protect American taxpayers and unborn babies. He said, “It is time, I believe, for more of us to face the harsh reality of what abortion does to children and look beyond the sound bites and slogans. No one in the media ever bothers to expose the violent methods of abortion that include dismemberment of a child’s fragile body, including decapitation, and that drugs like RU-486 starve the baby to death.”
Smith said, “Taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize or facilitate the killing of an unborn child,” and pointed to recent polls showing strong public opposition to taxpayer-funded abortions. He also criticized other provisions of the bill including banning faith-based schools from participating in the expanded child care program and permitting tax dollars to go to entities involved in the genocide against the Uyghurs in China.
Prior to vote, six bishop chairmen of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) expressed support for some provisions of the bill and concern or opposition to other sections in a letter to members of Congress. They called provisions that would allow for direct government funding of abortion “completely unacceptable,” and urged Congress to restore those long-standing restrictions.
“We have been consistent in our position and reiterate that it would be a calamity if the important and life-affirming provisions in this bill were accompanied by provisions facilitating and funding the destruction of unborn human life. No proposal to support individuals needing affordable health care coverage should compel Americans to pay for the destruction of human life through their tax dollars,” they stated in the letter.
The bill now goes to the Senate, which is evenly split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans. Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat, had previously predicted that the bill would be “dead on arrival” if the Hyde Amendment was not included.

U.S. Country Human Rights Reports to Include Abortion

The Biden State Department announced that it will again include tracking and listing of “Reproductive Rights” in the Human Rights Reports the State Department issues yearly for each country. The inclusion of “reproductive rights” had begun in 2012 by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton under the Obama administration. The category was removed under the Trump administration and replaced with “Coercion in Population Control.” 
The 2020 country reports were amended to include comments on access to abortion and reports from pro-abortion NGOs under the category “Reproductive Rights”. According to the twitter account of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor: “Today, the @StateDept demonstrates its commitment to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights [#SRHR] by reinstating #ReproductiveRights to the 2020 Human Rights Reports.” 
International Pressure for Abortion

EU: EP Calls on Poland to Legalize Abortion

The European Parliament (EP) has passed a resolution instructing Poland to change its current laws protecting the right to life and legalize abortion. The resolution, which passed by a vote of 373 to 124 votes with 55 abstentions, based its argument on the recent death of a 30-year-old Polish woman who died of sepsis poisoning following complications of pregnancy. A ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal last October banned abortions for fetal anomalies, though they are still allowed in cases of rape and the life of the mother. Abortion activists are using the woman’s tragic death in their campaign for legal and free abortion. 

Legislative News

Chile: Deputies Reject Elective Abortion Until 14 Weeks

The Chilean Chamber of Deputies rejected a bill that sought to allow elective abortion until the 14th week of pregnancy by a vote of 65 votes against, 62 in favor, and one abstention. Chile currently allows abortion to the exceptions of rape, up to 12 weeks of pregnancy and “fetal non-viability” and risk to the mother's life without gestational limits. Rosario Corvalán from Comunidad y Justicia, expressed his joy "for the result and for the message it leaves among the citizens." He said, "They must stop giving us the message that 'the majority of citizens want these projects,' because our representatives have spoken out and they do not want abortion.” 
One of those missing the vote is presidential candidate Gabriel Boric who in his campaign statement promises to implement “legal, free, safe and free abortion”. Boric is in a run-off election on December 19 with committed pro-life candidate José Antonio Kast. Kast is the leader of a new political movement in Chile based on three pillars: freedom, the strength of the traditional family, and the defense of law and order. 

Colombia: Parliament Rejects Euthanasia for the Third Time

Colombia’s House of Representatives has voted to reject a bill legalizing euthanasia for the third time. The vote counters a ruling this past July by Colombia’s Constitutional Court that made euthanasia available to people with non-terminal illnesses, though Colombia does not have a law permitting euthanasia. The decision was strongly criticized for being out of the realm of the court’s jurisdiction- that it was trying to legislate through its rulings. “This is the third time in almost two years that a euthanasia bill has been sunk. And this is very important because it indicates that the Colombian people, through their representatives in Congress, reject attacks against human life from fertilization to natural death,” said pro-life leader Jesús Magaña. The vote failed by a vote of 78 against and 65 for the bill. 

Slovakia: Pro-Life Bill Fails by One Vote

A pro-life bill to extend the waiting period before an abortion failed to pass the Slovak parliament by one vote. Sponsored by Anna Záborská, the proposed legislation would have expanded the waiting period from 48 hours to 96 hours, offered funding for new mothers, and banned advertising for abortions. “A responsible decision is a decision based on facts. This is also what our bill brings,” explained Záborská on her Facebook page. “Within a year, women will receive from the doctor not only information of a medical nature, but also what social, financial, psychological support they can receive if they deliver their child”. Abortion in Slovakia is available on demand for the first trimester of pregnancy and later in cases of risks to the mother’s life.

Executive News

AU: New NSW Premier Opposes Assisted Suicide Bill

The recently elected New South Wales (NSW) Premier, Dominc Perrottet, has voiced his opposition to the assisted suicide bill currently being considered by parliament. The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill of 2021 would permit assisted suicide for persons suffering a terminal illness and given less than six months to live, or 12 months if suffering from a neurodegenerative disease. Perrottet warned the bill will “cross a line” in a speech to parliament opening debate. “Make no mistake, this is a culture-changing decision,” said Perrottet. “This debate is fundamentally about how we treat that precious thing called human life.” NSW’s lower house recently voted to consider the bill and is now debating a proposed 167 amendments to the legislation. NSW is the last remaining Australian state that has not legalized euthanasia. 

Scotland: Government Will Not Support Abortion Clinic Buffer Zones

Scotland’s Woman’s Health Minister has announced it will not support efforts to create buffer zones around abortion clinics. Calls for buffer zones led by MP Gillian Mackay claim women are being harassed and “threatened” when entering abortion clinics. Pro-life MSP John Mason refuted the claims, sharing his personal experiences at pro-life protests outside clinics as being prayerful and peaceful. Minister Maree Todd said the government would not support a blanket ban. “It is important that any action taken is proportionate and balances the EHCR [European Court of Human Rights] rights to accessing healthcare and the rights of those protesting,” said Ms Todd. 

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