Washington — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Texas Catholic Conference joined other faith-based groups in filing a friend of the court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a Texas law requiring health and safety standards protecting women who undergo abortions.
The filing comes in the case of Whole Women's Health v. Hellerstedt, on which the Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments on two provisions of the law regulating abortion clinics in the state later during its current term.
The 2013 Texas law requires that clinics to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers when performing abortions and also requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital near an abortion clinic.
The brief argued that the Texas law should be upheld in its entirety.
The document said the Supreme Court has held since the advent of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case legalizing abortion in the U.S., that states may enforce standards regarding the qualifications of doctors who perform abortions and the conditions of facilities in which abortions are carried out.
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"To hold that states may not enact measures like the Texas law challenged here would be a betrayal of over 40 years of precedent," the brief said.
"There is ample evidence in this case that hospital admitting privileges and ambulatory surgical requirements protect women's lives and health," the brief continued. "When such requirements are not enforced, abuses detrimental to women's lives and health arise."
The brief cited several Supreme Court decisions that upheld the rights of states to set standards for facilities performing abortions. The filing also pointed to at least one case in which the court rejected the claim that abortion regulations create an undue burden by making it more difficult or expensive to obtain an abortion.
The case is the first involving abortion that the high court has taken in eight years. In 2007, the court in a 5-4 decision upheld the federal ban on partial-birth abortion, which was signed into law in 2003.
Joining the brief were the National Association of Evangelicals, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.