In the wake of June Medical v. Russo: A new strategy

By Matt Sande — The future of abortion jurisprudence in America is looking bleak for the foreseeable future. The pro-life strategy of placing statutory regulations on the abortion industry in hopes of prompting a Roe reversal appears to have reached its limit.


On Monday, the Supreme Court of the United States handed the pro-life community yet another bitter loss in its June Medical Services, LLC v. Russo decision, ruling that a Louisiana state law requiring hospital admitting privileges for nearby abortionists is unconstitutional. Chief Justice (and George W. Bush appointee) John Roberts voted with the liberal majority, contradicting his support for a virtually identical Texas law in the Hellerstedt decision four years prior. He did so on the basis of stare decisis alone and surely views Roe through the same legal lens, a decision in effect for over 47 years.

Given this failed strategy, why not pursue another?

Why not make a concerted effort to pass federal personhood legislation? Ultimately, if pre-born children are human beings from conception, as embryological science confirms, then they must be fully protected as persons from conception. Federal personhood legislation accomplishes this and has been introduced by Congress session after session. Both the Sanctity of Human Life Act (H.R. 305) and the Life at Conception Act (H.R. 616) apply the 14th Amendment protections of “equal protection” and “due process” to all human beings from conception, thus ending all abortion without exception. Together, these bills have 186 co-sponsors, yet they languish in the House Judiciary Committee with no public hearing.

The Sanctity of Human Life Act and the Life at Conception Act are the most inclusive and consistent pro-life bills ever introduced by Congress. Establishing personhood would legally recognize the pre-born child as a United States citizen at every stage of development and thus protect him or her against any physical harm, such as from surgical abortion, chemical abortion, embryo destructive research, research cloning, or any other violent attack. Put simply, the Sanctity of Human Life Act and the Life at Conception Act would protect every pre-born human being from his or her beginning without exception.

To be sure, Congress and the President have the constitutional authority to end abortion today. Congress could pass federal personhood legislation – with a provision that excludes the Supreme Court’s appellate jurisdiction over abortion or other harm to pre-born human life. This is allowed by Congress under Article III, Section II of the U.S. Constitution. Yet Congress refuses to act. The bills are introduced but they never receive a committee hearing or vote, regardless of whether Republicans or Democrats are in control.

But if all pro-life organizations collectively demand swift action on this legislation, and base their political endorsements on it, it will get done quickly should Republicans retain the Presidency and Senate and retake the House.

Senator Barry Goldwater once said: Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Even more importantly, he followed by saying: And moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.

We can no longer only stand in the middle of the road. We can’t regulate abortion to death. Regulation certainly has its place, and saves lives, but if that’s all we ever do, that’s all we’re ever going to get. At Pro-Life Wisconsin, we like to say, “We’re in it to end it.” While we work to restrict abortion, we must simultaneously pursue personhood.

Personhood must be our legal end game.

Our pre-born brothers and sisters deserve total and permanent legal protection of their right to life. As God’s image bearers, pre-born children from the moment of conception have intrinsic worth, inestimable value, and inviolable dignity. Now is the time to demand that the personhood of each pre-born child be enshrined in federal law.

Only when our nation protects pre-born children as persons will we see an end to the scandal of legal abortion.

Matt Sande is the legislative director at Pro-Life Wisconsin, an affiliate of the Personhood Alliance. Matt is a 1991 political science graduate from the University of Notre Dame and a former legislative aide in both the Wisconsin State Assembly and State Senate. His passion is educating grassroots pro-lifers on how to influence their state legislators. Matt is frequently quoted in the media on issues such as the morning-after pill, personhood, conscience rights, reproductive technology, embryo-destructive research, and end of life issues.

This article originally appeared on the Pro-Life Wisconsin blog and was republished with permission.

3 Comments on “In the wake of June Medical v. Russo: A new strategy

  1. I would be interested in sending to Mr. Sande some comment on this desire to enshrine in law the personhood of all life from conception. They say in politics, when it comes to legislation, that “the devil is in the details.” For example, in order to have effective traffic safety and necessary speed limits, it requires huge numbers of signs, clearly defined legislative implementation with specific penalty provisions including levels of fines, licence suspension, complete with hearing and appeal procedures, police monitoring and reporting and so on. It is one thing to put up a sign. However, without comprehensive and effective enforcement measures, such signs merely stand as meaningless clutter on our public road systems.
    Another example is that federal law has conscience protection for health professionals, shielding them from forced participation in that which violates the conscience. However, the absence of enforcement mechanisms renders the legislation toothless, leaving decision makers the power to proceed to violate conscience rights with impunity. This is why President Trump’s initiative to provide such enforcement mechanisms is so important to give real meaning to the law and real protection to healthcare workers.
    While I completely agree that every life is equally human from conception onward, and that seeking legislation to this effect flows from noble motives, it is enforcement which may be where it meets its Waterloo. Even if enacted, without adequate enforcement measures, it would languish among other statements of purpose that have no effect. This gives rise to the question as to what degree the state may intervene in private life in order to secure the objective, however noble it may seem.
    As far as I can see, the only way we may see victory in this area may be to go back to where we lost it and enlist the motivation of the one force in society appropriately positioned to address it and which is the religious, and in particular the Christian community, who, by our example, have compromised the central understandings of the created order. Our influence has emboldened society to pursue much further than we had imagined possible the demolition of everything sacred about human sexuality and its proper place. There are certain powers given to the state, or Cesar, as Jesus put it, and others given only to God, represented by the believing community. Both must fulfill their role, neither being able to perform that of the other.
    If any of this is of interest, I have written two companion booklets, one addressing what appears to be the mother lode of the sexual revolution, and from which has flowed the multiplicity of evils which it predictably spawned. If the community of faith, particularly, but not exclusively Christian, refuses to reclaim among us the ground we have surrendered to the sexual revolution, then western civilization is doomed to decline and ultimately collapse into a heap of moral ruin and anarchy, signs of which we see already. This will leave our global foes room to take us over and school children may be learning in another language.
    I can send you more introductory material on these two brief and very challenging titles which could very well elicit strong opposition even within the churches, given how far we have drifted from our founding principles. All is offered at no cost and postage paid.
    I thank you for reading and directing this to Mr. Sande

    • Hello, Robin! We have directed this to Matt. Thank you!

  2. Congress has the power to restrict the jurisdiction of the US Supreme Court, but since the Supreme Court has no authority to “strike down” state laws it shouldn’t even consider such cases unless they conflict with or usurp the powers granted to the federal government. There is no jurisdiction in these cases. This follows from the 10th Amendment and the Supremacy Clause.