The troubling votes of John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh

Matt C. Abbott
December 11, 2018
© Matt C. Abbott
Reproduced with Permission

From (Dec. 10):

The Supreme Court is staying out of legal fight over efforts to block Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood, with the newest justice casting the deciding vote.

The high court Monday rejected review of appeals from two states, which claim the nation's largest abortion provider should not receive any public funding after a series of disputed videos surfaced reportedly showing the group engaged in illegal sales of fetal tissue for medical research....

The six members voting to deny the petitions did not comment. That included the court's two other conservatives - Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts - who did not support taking on the issue now, effectively giving a victory to Planned Parenthood.

Very disappointing, but not entirely surprising given that Roberts and Kavanaugh are, at best, question marks on the life issues. Will they mostly, or always, side with the known pro-death justices in future rulings pertaining to abortion? Time will tell.

I asked longtime pro-life activist, professor and author Monica Migliorino Miller, Ph.D., director of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, for her input on this latest development.

Dr. Miller responded in an email as follows (slightly edited):

Pro-lifers have to continue to battle very hard for Supreme Court justices who are against the Roe v. Wade decision. And with the battle waged over the confirmation of Kavanaugh, his vote giving Planned Parenthood a victory in these state-funding cases is more than disappointing. Right now, the pro-death lobby might begin to wonder why they ever opposed him! We hope that his vote, not to mention that of Roberts, is not an indication of things to come.

In any case, the pro-life movement has learned that the Supreme Court is not the only front upon which the battle of life is waged. Sadly, there are plenty of reasons to maintain a healthy skepticism about the court in terms of pro-life victories. But no matter what, we should never give up. Too bad in this decision the states wanting to defund the abortion giant were left hanging out to dry.

I also asked Father Shenan J. Boquet, president of Human Life International, to weigh in on the story.

Father Boquet responded in an email as follows (slightly edited):

Though the pro-life movement should be concerned about the Supreme Court's decision to refuse to address the matter of making Planned Parenthood ineligible for Medicaid payments, we should view it as a temporary setback, not necessarily a definitive defeat. What complicates the issue is that most Americans are misinformed, indifferent or accepting of Planned Parenthood's rhetoric. The task of pro-life and family leaders is to educate the general public on the activities of Planned Parenthood, unmask the abortion giant, and collaborate with state legislators on creating and passing legislation that restricts Planned Parenthood's access to state and federal funds.

Justice Clarence Thomas is correct when asserting that "[s]ome tenuous connection to a politically fraught issue does not justify abdicating our judicial duty" and "[t]hese cases are not about abortion rights. They are about private rights of action under the Medicaid Act." Sadly, the court chose at this time not to become involved in the extremely complex task of disentangling Medicaid payments from abortion.

We must not become discouraged, but continue to strengthen our efforts in the defense of life and family.