By Samuel Lee, Director of Campaign Life Missouri
Planned Parenthood, the Satanic Temple and a handful of abortion doctors have sued to overturn some of Missouri’s pro-life laws. These not-so-strange bedfellows are following the modus operandi of the abortion industry of trying to get the judiciary to strike down commonsense and democratically-enacted laws that protect the health and safety of pregnant women and that provide women information on abortion risks and alternatives.
The most recent lawsuits want to topple Missouri’s 72-hour reflection period before an abortion, and the requirement that the abortion doctor provides important medical information to the woman considering an abortion.
In the decades since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, Planned Parenthood – the principal purveyor of abortion in America – has filed lawsuits attempting to: 1) force taxpayers to fund abortion on demand (by invalidating federal and state Hyde Amendments); 2) overturn statutes that protect parental rights by requiring parental consent or notification prior to a minor’s abortion; and 3) strike down laws that provide informed consent and reflection periods so that a woman considering her pregnancy choices can make the best decision for herself and her unborn child – without pressure from a pushy clinic employee or a deadbeat boyfriend.
Planned Parenthood initially prevailed in the lower courts, but over the years the U.S. Supreme Court reversed and upheld these pro-life laws. In doing so, the High Court affirmed what the American public has consistently believed: 61% oppose the use of tax dollars to fund abortions; seven out of 10 favor requiring parental consent for minors and establishing a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking abortions; 87% think women should be informed of the risks of an abortion in advance; and 78% want laws that protect both a woman and the life of her unborn child.
Despite clear majorities of Americans in favor of these sensible abortion regulations, Planned Parenthood and its allies continue to sidestep the political process by filing lawsuit after lawsuit. As now-Justice Neil Gorsuch warned back in 2005: “American liberals have become addicted to the courtroom, relying on judges and lawyers rather than elected leaders and the ballot box, as the primary means of effecting their social agenda”.
Although the Satanic Temple is a newcomer to the litigation game, it is simply following in Planned Parenthood’s footsteps. The only difference is that the Satanists have thrown in “religious belief” buzzwords in their lawsuits, as opposed to Planned Parenthood’s typical “undue burden” legal jargon.
Why have Satan worshippers and the Planned Parenthood formed this unholy alliance to challenge pro-life consumer protections laws? Two primary reasons: radical ideology and big money.
It is radical ideology to argue – as the Satanic Temple does – that it violates someone’s “religion” to be offered an informed consent booklet that explains (among other things): it is unlawful for a woman to be coerced into having an abortion; the availability of rape crisis centers and domestic violence shelters; the father can be ordered to pay child support; availability of alternatives to abortion; and scientifically-accurate descriptions of the development of an unborn child in two-week increments. As the U.S. Supreme Court noted in 2007 in upholding a federal ban on “partial birth” abortion:
Whether to have an abortion requires a difficult and painful moral decision. While we find no reliable data to measure the phenomenon, it seems unexceptionable to conclude some women come to regret their choice to abort the infant life they once created and sustained. … Severe depression and loss of esteem can follow. … The State has an interest in ensuring so grave a choice is well informed.
The Satanists also complain that the informed consent booklet includes the medically-accurate statement: “The life of each human being begins at conception. Abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being.”
But this violates no one’s religion. If it did, then every criminal could claim a “religious” exemption for violating laws prohibiting homicide or theft, which are based on the Ten Commandments (“You shall not murder”; “You shall not steal”). No sensible person would suggest that laws protecting life and property should be struck down because they are state-imposed “religion”.
Let there be no doubt that for the abortion industry, it is about the money and not about “protecting” women. Despite Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s “not-for-profit” status, its president Cecile Richards made over 775% more than the average non-profit CEO – collecting a whopping $957,952 in total compensation compared to Charity Navigator’s estimated median of $123,462 for non-profit CEO’s.
And Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region’s top-paid “independent contractor” abortion doctor – Robert Crist, MD – made $225,568 in FY2016.
A decrease in abortions decreases Planned Parenthood’s bottom line. That is because an estimated 55% (pro-choice source) to 86% (Congressional source) of its non-governmental revenue comes from abortion procedures.
And abortions in Missouri have been decreasing. The most recent data from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services shows that the number of abortions performed in facilities located in the state declined by 6% percent in 2015 compared to 2014, and 40% over the past 10 years.
No wonder Planned Parenthood’s supporters like NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri have been badmouthing Missouri’s pro-life pregnancy resource centers and maternity homes that provide free services to pregnant women and families in need. It’s hard to compete with faith-based services that are free, when Planned Parenthood’s business model requires its abortion customer paying anywhere from $400 to $2,000.
The lower courts may – temporarily at least – strike down Missouri’s sensible health and safety laws that regulate abortion. But the record over the long haul demonstrates that appeals courts and the state and federal Supreme Courts will ultimately reject the arguments of Planned Parenthood and its Satanic supporters.