The state of Louisiana is right to protect women

The Supreme Court hears oral arguments in June Medical Services v. Russo

March 4, 2020

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today in June Medical Services v. Russo, a significant case out of Louisiana dealing with medical standards and patient health as the legislature found that abortion clinics in their state neglect both.

In 2014, state Sen. Katrina Jackson (D) authored legislation to ensure women seeking abortions were provided with a basic standard of medical care. A representative in the Louisiana House at the time, Jackson believed it was unacceptable to allow abortion clinics to exempt themselves from the health and safety regulations that apply to all other ambulatory surgical centers. 

The bill, Louisiana Act 620, was appropriately named the Unsafe Abortion Protection Act, and it passed overwhelmingly with votes of 85 to 6 in the House and 34 to 3 in the Senate.

While Jackson is a stalwart pro-life legislator, she is clear-eyed about the purpose of this particular law now under review at the nation’s highest court. "This is about a minimum standard of care for women that we require for every other procedure," the senator told the Monroe News-Star, her hometown paper. "It's a common sense law. I do have legislation that would restrict or ban abortion, but this bill is apart from that." 

Her bill required the doctor performing an abortion to hold admitting privileges at a nearby hospital so that in the event of a complication they would be able to quickly transfer the woman to recieve care. Hospital admitting privileges for doctors are critical in order to ensure continuity of care for the patient, which is a standard medical practice required for all other ambulatory surgical centers.

Shortly after the common sense bill became a much needed law, a clinic and pair of abortion doctors challenged the constitutionality of the regulations in court claiming that such standards would shut down their services.

It’s important to note that patients of abortion clinics did not bring this challenge claiming the regulations were unwarranted or burdensome to their healthcare. The abortion clinics that would be regulated by this law brought the challenge to the law in order to avoid compliance to the same medical standards already required of all other clinics where surgerical procedures are conducted. And in their challenge to these basic protections for women, the abortion clinics exposed the myth at the heart of the abortion industry–that abortion is healthcare.

If abortion is healthcare, as their lobby claims, then the doctors involved should be held by law to proper medical standards to protect their patients. Abortionists cannot claim to be on the side of their patient’s health if they refuse to be regulated as healthcare professionals.

After the challenge, the Louisiana law was put on hold as another case was mounted in Texas to the Lone Star State’s recently enacted medical standard law for abortion clinics. That case, Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, lost at the Supreme Court in a narrow 5 to 4 decision in 2016, upholding the “undue burden” precedent. The justices found that the Texas law would place an undue burden on a woman’s so-called constitutional right to abortion. This legal precedent is the abortion lobby’s ever-elusive exemption from the regulatory standards of the medical community they claim to be a proud member of.

After the Texas decision, the Supreme Court ordered Louisiana’s Act 620 be reviewed at the District Court where it was eventually found unconstitutional. The state of Louisiana then appealed the ruling at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals where the District Court’s ruling was reversed, paving the way for Jackson’s law to finally go into effect in February of 2019. The abortion industry then requested and was granted an emergency stay by the Supreme Court to keep the law from becoming enforceable until the justices could weigh in.

On Jan. 2, the ERLC filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the justices to affirm the Fifth Circuit’s decision upholding the 2014 Louisiana law to protect women who suffer from the haphazard and unregulated practices of the abortion industry.

Commenting on our brief, Travis Wussow, ERLC's general counsel and vice president for public policy, affirmed to the Baptist Press that “Louisiana has the right to ensure the health and safety of its people by regulating the medical profession. This case should challenge the odd set of cultural assumptions and legal precedents under which the abortion industry operates with near impunity from the scrutiny of standard medical regulations.”

Wussow continued, “As abortion clinics claim to be medical providers, then the state is well within its duty to regulate their practices for the safety of women. We hope the Supreme Court will discard the 'undue burden' carve-out and apply the same ordinary and rational scrutiny to Louisiana's law that would apply to any other medical regulation."

At the heart of this case is the perplexing question of why abortion is exempt from the legal provision of safe medical practices. Why should the abortion industry be exempt from the medical standards already applied to all other ambulatory surgical centers? Do states have the right and responsibility to prioritize women’s health and safety over a specific industry’s business interests? Why should the abortion industry have legal standing in this case when their financial interests directly conflict with the health interests of the women the regulations seek to protect?

The case the nine justices will hear today questions critical health and safety regulations in an appeal brought by an abortion industry that benefits from an out-of-control system. The state of Louisiana is right to protect women.

Jeff Pickering

Jeff Pickering is the director of the Initiative on Faith & Public Life, a project of the American Enterprise Institute. AEI is a leading public policy think tank in Washington, DC and the initiative exists to equip Christian college students for faithful engagement in public life. Jeff moved to Washington … Read More

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24