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Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Texas's abortion clinic regulations. This was the Court's most important hearing on abortion in many years, perhaps decades.

The Director of FRC's Center for Religious Liberty, Arina Grossu, and our Senior Fellow for Legal Studies, Cathy Ruse, J.D. (formerly chief counsel to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution), were in the Court during the hearing to gain first-hand insight into the justices’ thinking. Their presence was especially important as, with our friends at the American Center for Law and Justice, FRC has filed an amicus brief in the case (Women's Whole Health v. Hellerstadt) documenting that abortion is anything but a safe procedure for women; Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller cited from our brief in his arguments supporting his state's commonsense abortion clinic rules.

As Arina explained recently, "The Texas law proposes that fundamental health and safety standards be applied to abortion facilities, standards that are currently applied to ambulatory surgical centers. These regulations are designed to safeguard against unsanitary conditions, inferior equipment, and the employment of unsuitable and untrained personnel in abortion facilities. Second, it requires that abortionists have admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion facility when something goes wrong with the abortion and the woman needs to be hospitalized (as is often the case)."

We don't know whether or not the Court will rule in favor of women's health. Much will hinge on the unpredictable Justice Anthony Kennedy. As Cathy said after listening to Justice Kennedy's exchanges with the attorneys arguing the case, "No one hearing arguments today could come away with a clear idea of how Justice Kennedy is likely to vote. Even when he is very vocal, Kennedy's comments and questions serve as poor predictors of his votes."

We can be encouraged that we have allies in people like Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc), who made a surprise and very welcome appearance at a pro-life rally in front of the Court during Wednesday's hearing. "We are the pro-life generation and we are here to stand for life," he said. FRC is grateful for his leadership.

Political leaders, especially those running for President, should take note of the new survey conducted for FRC by the respected WPA Opinion Research firm, which found, "For possibly the first time, large majorities of Democrats and Republicans say that the direction of the U.S. Supreme Court will be a 'very important' determining factor in how they vote for president in the fall, according to a new poll (which) found that 71 percent of Republican voters believe the future of the court will be somewhat or very important to their vote. And 63 percent of Democrats agree."

Commenting on the poll, FRC President Tony Perkins noted that "Justice Scalia's replacement may very well be the deciding vote on major cases involving religious liberty, state abortion laws, gun control, and immigration. With so much at stake, the American people should be allowed to decide in November who picks the next Supreme Court justice."

Finally, yesterday the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives held its first hearing on the horrific organ harvesting of the corpses of aborted unborn children conducted by Planned Parenthood and its contractors. As U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn), chairwoman of the Panel, said in her opening remarks, "Last summer's videos revealed that something very troubling that is going on related to fetal tissue and research. The weak, the vulnerable, those with no voice -- harvested and sold -- there is something going on, something that deserves investigating and that demands our best moral and ethical thinking."

The unborn child is a person, a baby, a being made in the image and likeness of God. She and her mother deserve better than the predation of the abortion industry. That's why FRC works so hard to protect the unborn in law and supports policies that affirm and support their mothers. Thank you, as ever, for standing with us.   

Robert F. Schwarzwalder, Jr.
Senior Vice-President
Family Research Council

P.S. To learn more about the upcoming Supreme Court nomination battle, read the new paper by FRC’s Senior Fellow Chris Gacek, J.D., Ph.D., “A Supreme Decision: Filling Scalia’s Seat.”

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