July 23, 2020

Life Legal Submits Brief to Supreme Court Challenging Viability Standards

Photo Credit: Joe Gratz / Flickr
In a brief to the Supreme Court, the pro-life organization Life Legal is challenging the viability standards established by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

On Monday, July 20, Life Legal submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in support of Mississippi’s “Gestational Age Act,” which is currently being challenged in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The case involves Mississippi’s “Gestational Age Act,” prohibiting abortion after 15 weeks.

"Our brief is an attack on the unworkable “viability” standard adopted by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade and affirmed in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which has cost the lives of millions of babies," Life Legal wrote in a press release. "These cases rely on a highly subjective determination of a baby’s 'capability of meaningful life outside the mother’s womb.'"

Life Legal used examples from other Supreme Court Cases to prove its point that the Supreme Court Rulings in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey were flawed and need to be corrected.

"...we urge the Court to look to its own ruling in Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health, where it found that a state does not have to make judgments about the “quality” of an individual’s life but can “assert an unqualified interest” in protecting human life.  The Cruzan case involved a disabled young woman whose parents wanted to remove her feeding tube. The Court did not accept the parent’s argument that their daughter’s lack of a sufficient “quality of life” was a reason to kill her and held that a higher standard of evidence was required before someone could make the irreversible decision to end the life of a person who cannot communicate his or her wishes. In so doing, the Court affirmed the state’s interest in protecting human life, without regard to the perceived worth of that life."

Life Legal also takes issue with the fact that the survival rate of prematurely born children is influenced significantly by hospitals and medical professionals that refuse to even attempt to save children who are born before a certain gestational age. This heavily influences when many medical professionals believe a child becomes "viable." Even though increased knowledge and quality of care have lowered the minimum gestational age that babies have survived birth, many hospitals leave outdated "viability" standards in place and refuse care to children born any earlier.

"Studies have demonstrated that a baby’s survivability does not depend only on reaching a specific gestational age, but on the medical care that is available and especially on the attitudes of physicians and hospitals regarding the quality of life and disability," Life Legal wrote. "For example, Providence Women and Children’s Services of Oregon categorically denies medical care for babies before at 22 weeks or earlier, regardless of the parents’ wishes. Not surprisingly, its survival rate for those babies is 0%, whereas the survival rate for 22-week babies is as high as 60% in other hospitals."