The Supreme Court rejected an appeal Tuesday from an abortion clinic seeking access to records belonging to the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops concerning its pro-life deliberations.
Whole Woman’s Health, a pro-choice health facility in Texas, had subpoenaed the bishops’ religious deliberations on abortion and any communications with government officials, after the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops offered to provide burials for aborted remains following a state law requiring hospitals to properly dispose of fetal tissue through cremation or burial rather than in a sewer or landfill.
Whole Woman’s Health had challenged the state law in separate litigation and sought the records in conjunction with that case.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled for the bishops in their motion to halt the subpoena, saying the clinic’s move ran afoul of the First Amendment.
In rejecting the appeal Monday, the high court leaves the 5th Circuit ruling in place.
“Thank goodness the Supreme Court saw this appeal for what it was: a nasty attempt to intimidate the bishops and force them to withdraw their offer to bury every child aborted in Texas,” said Eric Rassbach, vice president at Becket Religious Liberty for All, which represented the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops.
Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO of Whole Women’s Health, said the records were requested when the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops offered to testify in the clinics’ original trial against the state, attempting to overturn the mandatory burial law.
“As we moved through the litigation process it became clear that their offer was not well thought out and would not be an acceptable means of compliance with the law for patients, particularly those with religious beliefs that differ from the Catholic Church,” Ms. Miller said.
Though she is disappointed by the high court denying the appeal Tuesday, Ms. Miller said they remain focused on the clinics’ other case against the Texas law.