Success shouldn’t be tied to abortion

Court briefs give this impression

“To the world, I am an attorney who had an abortion, and, to myself, I am an attorney because I had an abortion.”

So begins a “friend of the court” (amici curiae) brief filed by more than 100 women in the legal profession who have “exercised their constitutional right to an abortion.” The brief was filed Jan. 4 in anticipation of an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case that seeks to overturn abortion restrictions that were passed by the Texas Legislature in 2013.

The decision to hear the case was announced last November. It is the first time in eight years that the high court will take up an abortion case.

The Texas case, brought by a coalition of abortion providers, is known as Whole Women’s Health v. Cole. It will address two provisions of a Texas law regulating abortion clinics. One requires all physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of an abortion facility in case of medical emergencies. The other requires abortion facilities to meet the requirements of a hospital operating room. This latter requirement was appealed and was put on hold pending court challenges.

The Supreme Court justices will be asked to decide whether the two restrictions “violate the undue burden standard” established in its landmark Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision in 1992, according an online news report by The Atlantic.

In a statement, Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life (NRL), said the two laws seek to protect women.

“The abortion industry doesn’t like these laws because abortion clinics would be forced to spend money to meet basic health and safety standards,” she said.

According to the NRL, 16 states require that abortion providers have admitting privileges in a nearby hospital and 22 states have laws mandating that abortion facilities be treated like ambulatory surgical centers.

What makes the brief filed Jan. 4 so unusual, it seems, is that it seeks to counter testimonies by women who regret their abortions. Instead, the Amici, as the 113 women are called, “are united in their strongly-held belief that they would not have been able to achieve the personal or professional successes they have achieved were it not for their ability to obtain safe and legal abortions,” according to the brief.

It says that the Texas law and others like it “would have the very real effect of preventing numerous women, including many current and future attorneys, from effectively planning their family and professional lives.”

Our church teaches us that all life is sacred. The dignity of human life takes precedence over all other rights or privileges, including personal and professional successes. At the same time, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states that access to employment and to professions “must be open to all without unjust discrimination” (2433).

Studies show that the path to a successful life through education is more challenging for women. Attaining that success, however, should not come at the cost of sacrificing the life of an unborn child. Our goal as a pro-life community should be to help women find the education and career success to which they are entitled while doing all we can to show that even an unintended pregnancy is not an obstacle.

Some examples might be to address the student loan debt crisis; increase child care tax breaks for single women; and provide more incentives, such as scholarships and grants for single, divorced, minority and low-income women to continue their education.

Another step might be to listen to the stories of women who shared them in the brief. (They can be viewed online at bit.ly/amicus_texas.) By reading the stories of women facing an unintended pregnancy (and what compels them to believe they have no choice but to abort a child), can we help in addressing those concerns and prevent future cases?

People of all ages will gather in Washington, D.C., and in other major cities later this month to participate in the March for Life. Their chants and their prayers should not only be to end abortion. They should be for a change of heart, a change of understanding — one that transforms the notion that any success in life happens “because I had an abortion.”