Attorney General Rutledge spins wildly as she fights to strip abortion rights | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Attorney General Rutledge spins wildly as she fights to strip abortion rights

Posted By on Wed, Mar 9, 2016 at 4:18 PM

click to enlarge LESLIE RUTLEDGE: Her news release on an anti-abortion brief isn't Animal Farm, but it brings it to mind.
  • LESLIE RUTLEDGE: Her news release on an anti-abortion brief isn't Animal Farm, but it brings it to mind.
Of course Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is joining other Republican, officials in urging the U.S. Supreme Court to make it harder, nearly impossible in many cases, for women in Texas to get an abortion.

Her news release is a masterpiece of disingenuous politispeak. Orwell — sorry, Rutledge — says this case isn't about abridging the medical rights of women and the availability of a sometimes health-critical medical procedure. It's actually, she says, about PROTECTING women.

For context, a good example is Dahlia Lithwick's article in Slate on the case. Part of her fiery start on coverage of oral arguments:

When the Supreme Court last heard oral arguments in a landmark abortion case, it was April 1992, the case was Planned Parenthood v Casey, and Sandra Day O’Connor was the lone female justice.

Twenty-four years later, there are three women on the court. And if you count Justice Stephen Breyer as one of history’s great feminists—and I do—then you can view the arguments in this term’s landmark abortion case, Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt, as creating a neat 4–4 split. On one side, you have a group of testy male justices needling a female lawyer for Texas clinics about whether it was even appropriate for them to hear this appeal. On the other, you’ve got four absolutely smoking hot feminists pounding on Texas’ solicitor general for passing abortion regulations that have no plausible health purpose and also seem pretty stupid.

It felt as if, for the first time in history, the gender playing field at the high court was finally leveled, and as a consequence the court’s female justices were emboldened to just ignore the rules. Time limits were flouted to such a degree that Chief Justice John Roberts pretty much gave up enforcing them. I counted two instances in which Roberts tried to get advocates to wrap up as Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor simply blew past him with more questions. There was something wonderful and symbolic about Roberts losing almost complete control over the court’s indignant women, who are just not inclined to play nice anymore.

And speaking of women, you then have Leslie Rutledge. Her release in full follows:
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has joined with 23 other states to file a bipartisan amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court urging that states continue the long-standing practice of being able to protect patients and uphold overall public health. The brief is in support of Texas House Bill 2 (HB 2), which seeks to ensure patient safety and raise the standard for care of women.

“States have a responsibility to ensure that all medical procedures, including abortions, are performed with a certain standard of care to protect the health and safety of the patient,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “If the Texas law is struck down, it will put at risk the ability of states to properly protect its citizens. I am hopeful when the Court decides this case later this year it will recognize that Texas, Arkansas and all states have a legitimate interest in protecting the health of women and regulating the medical profession.”

The Texas law is not about overturning Roe v. Wade, nor is it about restricting access to abortions. Instead, it is about ensuring that if women choose to have such a procedure it be done in a safe manner. As the Attorneys General argue, “The entire premise of Petitioners’ undue burden theory is that Texas’s clinic regulations will prevent women from obtaining abortions. Yet, despite decades of those regulations, neither Petitioners nor their supporting amici provide any evidence of such a stark result. The most that they prove is that, in the wake of new state regulations, some abortion clinics close rather than adjust. They recite no evidence that such closures have prevented any women from obtaining a timely abortion.”

According to the Texas Attorney General’s office, in 2013, the Texas Legislature passed HB 2 to provide abortion patients with a higher standard of health care. The common-sense law requires the minimum standards for abortion facilities be equivalent to the minimum standards for general surgery centers (“ambulatory surgical centers”), as the Kermit Gosnell Grand Jury in Pennsylvania recommended. The law requires abortion doctors to have local hospital admitting privileges to ensure continuity of care, as recommended previously by the National Abortion Federation.

The case was argued before the Court last week, and a decision is expected in late June.
Read Lithwick. You'll see the women justices' questions drop a bomb in Rutledge's thin gruel.

For example:

The case involves a crucial constitutional challenge to two provisions in Texas’ HB 2, the state’s omnibus abortion bill from 2013. The first requires doctors to obtain admitting privileges from a hospital 30 miles from the clinic where they perform abortions; the second requires abortion clinics to be elaborately retrofitted to comply with building regulations that would make them “ambulatory surgical centers.” If these provisions go into full effect, Texas would see a 75 percent reduction in the number of clinics serving 5.4 million women of childbearing age. The constitutional question is whether having 10 clinics to serve all these women, including many who would live 200 miles away from the nearest facility, represents an “undue burden” on the right to abortion deemed impermissible after the Casey decision. Each of the female justices takes a whacking stick to the very notion that abortion—one of the safest procedures on record—requires rural women to haul ass across land masses larger than the whole state of California in order to take a pill, in the presence of a doctor, in a surgical theater.

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