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Supreme Court Weighs Why Abortion Clinics Are Closing at Record Rates

Supreme Court Weighs Why Abortion Clinics Are Closing at Record RatesDelcia Lopez / AP/The Monitor

The first abortion case to reach the US Supreme Court in nearly a decade stands to impact the fate of most clinics in Texas—and possibly clinics in states with similar restrictions that have led to years of record closures.

Opening arguments begin Wednesday for Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a challenge to a 2013 Texas law requiring clinics to adhere to stricter medical standards. It passed the same year as Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s life sentence for grisly practices uncovered at his Philadelphia office.

“The central purpose of the law in Texas and other states is to protect the health of women, and pro-lifers should see that as critical,” said Clarke Forsythe, senior counsel at Americans United for Life.

The case reflects recent shifts in pro-life activism, including a greater emphasis onwomen’s voices, leadership, and wellbeing. While abortion opponents remain concerned with the life of the unborn baby, they also highlight the physical and emotional risks posed to its mother. The women rising in the pro-life movement since the ‘90s “actually believed pretty deeply that abortion hurts women,” law professor Mary Ziegler told The Washington Post for its examination of how the nation’s highest court will test this new strategy.

Texas’s law insists that doctors performing abortions have patient-admitting privileges for nearby hospitals in case of emergencies, as well as that the facilities meet the same building codes as other outpatient surgical clinics. These requirements proved too costly or logistically impossible for all but 8 of the Lone Star State’s 40 clinics, about half of which have closed already, Reuters reports.

In the past five years, more than 150 US abortion providers shut down; America’s abortion rate dropped to its lowest since Roe v. Wade, and in both the most pro-choice and most pro-life states; and states passed more than 300 new restrictions on abortions. Bloomberg notes that five states have just one abortion clinic left. This dramatic pro-life wave followed the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a partial-birth abortion ban in 2007, the last time it ruled on the issue.

That Gonzales v. Carhart ruling paved the way for states to propose abortion restrictions of their own without much concern that they would be struck down by the court, said Forsythe. A decision in favor of Texas would send a similar message; clinics in Louisiana are pushing to wait to see what the justices say before their state enacts its own version of the Texas law. Across the country, 8 other states have introduced similar restrictions, and 23 states signed a brief sent to the Supreme Court in support of the regulations.

This case will be one of the first high-profile issues to be heard following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last month, which leaves an even number on the court. The most likely outcome—a 4–4 tie—would defer to the lower court’s ruling in favor of Texas, “but it would not send a nationwide signal” about abortion policy, Forsythe said.

Justice Anthony Kennedy is left as the deciding vote. The New York Times reportsthat the case has amassed hundreds of personal abortion testimonies filed within supporting briefs, including personal stories from lawyers who say their abortions changed the course of their lives for the better, and a statement signed by thousands of women who say they suffered decades of “trauma and emotional injury” as a result.

Pro-choice activists, along with medical professionals including the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, have sided against the Texas law. They state that abortion is consistently a safe and complication-free procedure; therefore, state regulations are really efforts to force these providers to close—placing an “undue burden” on women seeking abortions.

“We shouldn’t be surprised that the abortion rights lobby fights legislation that creates accountability for surgeons and clinics. The abortion industry has always operated at the expense of women and families,” said Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. “My prayer is that the Supreme Court will act in defense of the lives of women and the unborn in empowering states to cut through the political armor of the abortion industry.”

Presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio signed onto the congressional brief filed on behalf of the Texas law, and both have released statements in support.

CT previously noted the record clinic closures, and examined why 50 may be the best the pro-life movement can hope for. CT also noted how January’s March for Life was the most “catholic” one yet.

Pope Francis Quiet on Catholic Persecution of Protestants in Mexico

Update (Feb. 23): Four days after Pope Francis visited Chiapas, local officials agreed to restore water and electricity to 27 Protestant families. Two years ago, the utilities were turned off when the families refused to participate in or donate money to Catholic celebrations.

The agreement brokered with authorities “includes respect for beliefs, as well as the obligations of villagers, as long as these do not include participation in or contributions to religious festivals,” a local advocate told Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

But in another Chiapas village, Catholic officials refused last week to allow an elderly Protestant man to be buried there. The man was part of 12 Protestant families who were expelled from the village for their faith in 2012, and have been living in a homeless shelter in nearby San Cristóbal de las Casas. The city is where Francis led Mass and denounced Mexico’s treatment of its indigenous peoples.

John L. Allen Jr., associate editor of Crux, called the pope’s silence on Catholic persecution of Protestants “a striking omission.”

“Particularly with a pope who has spoken multiple times about how anti-Christian persecution is creating an ‘ecumenism of blood,’ evangelicals were hoping that he would make a point of denouncing that persecution when it comes from elements of his own flock,” he wrote in his analysis of Francis’s Mexico trip.


During Pope Francis’s tour of Mexico this week, he visited the southern state of Chiapas in an attempt to bolster sliding Catholic numbers in the indigenous region.

Of the 90 percent of Mexican adults who were raised as Catholic, 81 percent are still Catholic, according to the Pew Research Center. In Chiapas, just 58 percent are Catholic, according to the 2010 census.

All across Latin America, Catholics are losing converts to Protestants, according to Pew’s tally of record low levels of Catholicism across 19 countries and territories. At the same time, the region’s Protestant minority has grown steadily for the past 40 years.

Chiapas borders Guatemala, where half the population is Catholic and 41 percent are Protestant, according to Pew. Numbers are similar in nearby Honduras (46% Catholic, 41% Protestant) and El Salvador (50% Catholic, 36% Protestant). (The Chiapas-Guatemala border is the frontline of a battle to prevent the illegal immigration of Central Americans to the United States.)

The Roman Catholicism practiced in southern Mexico is combined with indigenous religions. The resulting practice made the Catholic hierarchy so uncomfortable that in 2002, the Vatican under Pope John Paul II asked the diocese in Chiapas to stop ordaining deacons.

Francis, who restarted the ordinations in 2014, took a strong stand for the indigenous Catholics this week.

“Today’s world, ravaged as it is by a throwaway culture, needs you!” he told them, denouncing the “systemic and organized way your people have been misunderstood and excluded from society.”

He didn’t address the persecution that indigenous Catholics have leveled against Protestants in Chiapas.

In what Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) calls “a marginalized community within a larger marginalized community,” Chiapas Protestants have been banished fromtheir homes and land. Sometimes after having their utilities cut off. Sometimes after threats of lynching. The day before Francis’s visit, one evangelical church wasbroken into and burned down.

The expulsions and occasional physical violence have largely been ignored by the state and federal government. While the Mexican constitution guarantees the freedom of religion, that right often conflicts with the Law of Uses and Customs, which grants local and regional autonomy in parts of the country with large indigenous populations like Chiapas. The laws are meant to preserve their culture.

“Typically in such cases, the local authorities proclaim their village or municipality to be exclusive to one particular religion, prohibit the entry of members of other faiths, make participation in activities related to the ‘official’ religion compulsory, and attempt to force inhabitants who practice other faiths to convert to the declared ‘official’ religion,” a 2015 CSW report stated.

Chiapas, which has the largest number of religious freedom violations in the country, has 30 unresolved cases of displaced Protestant families.

“Serious violations of religious freedom targeting religious minorities have occurred on a widespread basis in Chiapas and Hidalgo since the 1970s,” the CSW report said. “Almost 40 years on, it is impossible to justify the government’s failure to address the issue in any comprehensive way. Instead, expulsions continue, religious tensions continue to be exploited for political and economic interests, and social instability continues to grow.”

CT has covered the growing pressure US officials and religious freedom advocates are placing on Mexico to stop Protestant persecution, the steady swing of Latin Americans away from Catholicism and into Protestantism, and what those Protestants actually believe and practice.

The Path to the Throne of God

Path to the Throne of GodFrom the creation of the world to the present time, the one outstanding purpose of Heaven has been to make known to man the character and work of our Creator and Redeemer. To accomplish this, God has given three books to the human family: first, the book of creation, His word in nature; second, the sanctuary, His word visualized in an object lesson; and third, the Bib1e the written Word. The grand central theme of each of these books is the plan of salvation. To study any one of them with any other object in view than to understand God’s character and His plan for us is to miss His purpose entirely.

The Midnight Cry

midnight-cry-bookThis phrase, which the Millerites used to describe their message to the world, is adapted from the words of Christ’s parable regarding the wise and foolish virgins who were waiting for the bridegroom to come forth that they might go “with him to the marriage.” During the long wait they “all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him.” The wise virgins had taken oil in their lamps. All arose when the cry went forth at midnight. The foolish went to buy Oil; the wise went in with the bridegroom to the marriage celebration, and “the door was shut.” The lesson Christ drew was this: “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man comes.” Matthew 25:1-13. The language of this parable is woven all through Millerite literature. They believed they fulfilled this parable.

With Jesus in His Sanctuary

with-jesus-in-his-sanctuaryThe subject of the Sanctuary and the investigative judgement should be clearly understood by the people of God. All need a knowledge for themselves of the position and work of their great High Priest. Otherwise, it will be impossible for them to exercise the faith which is essential at this time, or to occupy the position which God designs them to fill. . . . The Sanctuary in heaven is the very centre of Christ’s work in behalf of men. It concerns every soul living upon the earth. It opens to view the plan of redemption, bringing us down to the very close of time, and revealing the triumphant issue of the contest between righteousness and sin. It is of the utmost importance that all should thoroughly investigate these subjects, and be able to give an answer to everyone that asketh them a reason of the hope that is in them” (GC 488, 489).

Site Successfully Upgraded to Cloud Server

We have been finding that the site, with its 6,300 pages, is becoming too powerful and too big to stay on a shared host server. It was even too much for a regular VPS server. Therefore, on 18 January, the site completed its transition to a dedicated cloud server. All the audio and video files in the site were moved to This will allow us to add further capability to the site that we could not install previously. It will also allow users to have a faster audio and video file load. We will keep you posted on all the new capabilities that will be added to the site in the future.

Comments for All Registered Users

You will notice that all registered users are now able to add comments to the articles in the site. Therefore, if you have not registered yet, please feel free to join the 1,700 registered individuals. You can register by clicking on the registration link near the top of ever page on the site. Please note that you are expected to follow the comment guidelines found in the Legal Notices in the Site Docs section of the site.

Full Text (Old & New Testament) Added to Audio Bible!

Research has shown that the more interactive a reading session is, the more you will absorb from it. So, to enhance our Bible Reading Plan implementation, we have added full text to go along with every one of our Bible chapters in the Audio Bible section. Therefore, when you go to a chapter, it will read the chapter to you and give you the text for you to read along with the audio too. Thus, your Bible can become more effective. Therefore, over 1,200 text files have been added to the audio files. Check them out for yourself!

Site Upgrade Completed!

The version of the CMS software that the site used (Joomla 1.5) will be sunsetted very shortly. Therefore, we have upgraded the site to the latest version of Joomla. In addition to this, we implemented a number of new features to the site. So, here is the new site. We expect that testing of the site will continue on 1 April 2012. We will keep you posted on this important development. If you notice anything unusual with the site, please email Brother Nisbett at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Thanks!

Women’s Ordination Debate Heats Up In Bermuda

On 26 February 2011, the very first woman elder was ordained at Restoration SDA Church. This act now paves the way for the ordination of the first woman pastor in the region. It has also sparked a great debate in the membership of the church. Many individuals are searching their Bibles to see what it has to say on the subject and taking sides on which side of the argument they ascribe to. With all that is going on, we have found it necessary to assist CRCB members in understanding why arguments are being made against women’s ordination. Therefore, please read the whole book, Searching the Scriptures by Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, now available here. If you do not have time to read it in its entirety, please read chapter 5. Thanks!