Supreme Court strikes down Texas anti-abortion law | Arkansas Blog

Monday, June 27, 2016

Supreme Court strikes down Texas anti-abortion law

Posted By on Mon, Jun 27, 2016 at 9:19 AM

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The U.S. Supreme Court today invalidated the Texas law aimed at restricting abortion by requiring that abortion providers meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers.

The law was a sham because most abortions were provided, as most are in Arkansas, by clinics providing two pills that lead to miscarriages in the first eight weeks of pregnancy. The law forced closure of the majority of clinics in Texas, making abortion all but inaccessible to millions of women.

The decision is a welcome signal to all the states, led by the likes of Arkansas, seeking ever more creative ways to eliminate abortion de facto, if not by law. The Constitution still protects women's abortion rights, but it's meaningless if laws force clinics to shut down.

In fact, a law struck down in Texas is under challenge in Arkansas.

That is the law requiring an abortion provider to have a physician with hospital admitting privileges. Doctors are too fearful from repercussions from so-called "pro-life" forces to agree to serve in that capacity in Arkansas. A federal district court has, so far, looked askance at the law. the Texas precedent indicates it should fall for good eventually.

The decision was 5-3, with Anthony Kennedy in the majority opinion written by Stephen Breyer, and Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and John Roberts dissenting. But only Thomas would have upheld the statute upright. Alito and Roberts would have remanded for more hearings. Justice Ruth Ginsburg wrote that laws singling out abortion providers for regulation not given others should always fail. Here's the full opinion.

Is the Arkansas law meant to eradicate pharmaceutical abortion really a "value neutral" effort to provide for health and safety? Of course it is not.

As Ginsburg notes, childbirth, among many other medical procedures, is far more dangerous than handing out these pills, but similar rules aren't applied to them.

UPDATE: Extremist Sen. Tom Cotton was quick to insert his superior knowledge into the situation:

"By caving to the demands of abortion extremists who seek to normalize the ending of an innocent human life in the womb regardless of the dangers, the Supreme Court has left almost no room for common sense and simple decency in our nation's approach to abortion. I deeply believe that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and that it should be-and will be-overturned someday. But before that time, we all should have been able to agree that duly elected representatives of the people can pass laws to protect women from unsafe abortion providers. That's now impossible after this decision, and it will be to the detriment of the well-being of women across the nation."
This is a lie, no more or less, that is being propagated by anti-abortion forces. As Ginsburg wrote, safety is not the issue here. If it was, Cotton and Co. would be passing dozens of laws to provide notice, lectures, diagnostic testing, cooperating physicians, emergency room level equipment and other restrictions for dozens of more dangerous medical procedures. They aren't. They want to deny women autonomy over their wombs. Simple as that.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, who joined other Republican states in supporting the Texas law, is sticking with the dishonest pitch that this law is about women's health.

“Arkansas, like Texas, has a profound interest in protecting the health of all women, but today’s unfortunate ruling puts that at risk,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The Court has issued a decision that makes it even more challenging for a State to provide common sense health and safety regulations for abortion procedures. I will continue to analyze this opinion and evaluate what it means for Arkansas’s case at the Eighth Circuit.”
Other congressmen, including Bruce Westerman and Sen. John Boozman, joined in regurgitating the Republican talk machine crafted line that this was about women's health. I refer them to Justice Ginsburg, too.

The ACLU of Arkansas cheered the ruling:

Jennifer Dalven, director of the Reproductive Freedom Project at the American Civil Liberties Union had this response:

"Today, the Supreme Court reaffirmed that the Constitution protects not just the theoretical right to abortion, but the right of a woman to actually get one without unwarranted interference from politicians.  The decision should send a loud signal to politicians that they can no longer hide behind sham rationales to shut down clinics and prevent a woman who has decided to end a pregnancy from getting the care she needs."

“This decision sets a national precedent and its effects are likely to be felt around the country.”

“Today we celebrate, tomorrow we roll up our sleeves,” said ACLU of Arkansas executive director Rita Sklar. “We must all tell Arkansas lawmakers that, in today’s ruling, the Court recognized these abortion restrictions for what they are: sham laws that do nothing to protect a woman’s health but do prevent her from getting the care she needs. The sham stops today. It’s time for Arkansas legislators to stand up for women and families and repeal laws designed to block access to abortion care and to move forward with policies that support women and families. As for our case pending in the 8 th circuit challenging a law that requires admitting privileges for doctors, we believe that, in light of this decision, the court is more likely to find the law unconstitutional.”

Challenges to admitting privileges requirements similar to the Texas law are currently pending in federal courts in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

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