Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Supreme Court Strikes Down Texas Abortion Restrictions

In a stunning 5-3 ruling yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Texas' restrictions on abortion clinics that claimed to be aimed at "protecting women" but which in fact were aimed at making abortions as difficult to secure as possible.  Indeed, under the new restrictions, 60% of clinics providing abortion services would have been forced to close.  Bearing the brunt of this reality would be poor women who lacked the financial resources to obtain services elsewhere.   The lie put forth by Texas Republicans is one that is very familiar to Virginians where anti-abortion forces rammed through similar "safety measures" under Gov. Bob McDonnell only to have the restrictions reversed under Democrat Gov. Terry McAuliffe.  Like their Christofascist puppet masters, no one lies as much as "family values" Republicans.  Hopefully, yesterday's ruling will end similar dishonest subterfuges in other states.  Here are excerpts from the Washington Post on the ruling which constitutes a huge defeat for Christofascists bent on inflicting their beliefs on all Americans:
The Supreme Court on Monday ruled resoundingly for abortion rights advocates in the court’s most important decision on the controversial issue in 25 years, striking down abortion-clinic restrictions in Texas that are similar to those enacted across the country.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy joined the court’s liberals in the ­­5- to-3 decision, which said Texas’s argument that the restrictions were meant to protect women’s health was merely cover for making abortions harder to obtain.
The Texas provisions required doctors who perform abortions at clinics to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and ordered clinics to meet hospital-like standards of surgical centers.
“The surgical center requirement, like the admitting-privileges requirement, provides few, if any, health benefits for women, poses a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions, and constitutes an ‘undue burden’ on their constitutional right to do so,” Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote for the majority.
Similar restrictions have been passed in other states, including Virginia, and now must be considered suspect.
The admitting-privileges requirement is already in place across most of Texas and has reduced the number of clinics from around 40 to around 20, abortion rights advocates say. They say the surgical-center requirement would have forced more closures, cutting the number of clinics to about 10.
Kennedy, the court’s pivotal justice on abortion rights, assigned the opinion to Breyer. The court’s liberal female justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, joined it.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissented.
The outcome of the Texas case turned on an interpretation of the court’s ruling nearly 25 years ago in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Written by three justices including Kennedy, it said states had a legitimate interest in regulating abortion procedures but could not impose an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy before fetal viability.  Included in the description of such a burden was “unnecessary health regulations that have the purpose or effect of presenting a substantial obstacle to a woman seeking an abortion.”
Ginsburg joined Breyer’s opinion Monday but wrote separately to amplify its message, saying it fit within the court’s previous rulings protecting abortion rights.
The court’s decision concerned two parts of a Texas law, HB 2, passed by the Republican-dominated Texas legislature — the fiery debate over the law brought Democrat Wendy Davis to prominence — and signed in 2013 by then-Gov. Rick Perry (R).
Northup and the clinics said the requirement that clinics meet surgical-center standards was prohibitively expensive and impossible to meet in some instances. They also said the requirement that doctors have hospital admitting privileges could not be met in many places, simply because doctors who perform abortions do not send enough patients to hospitals to get the designation.
Among the evidence undermining the surgical-center requirement, Breyer said, is a finding that early-term abortions have a lower mortality rate — five deaths in a decade in Texas — than childbirth, which the state allows to take place at home, or procedures such as a colonoscopy or liposuction, which do not carry the surgical-center requirement.
Texas could also not show why doctors needed an admitting privilege to a local hospital, Breyer said.
“When directly asked at oral argument whether Texas knew of a single instance in which the new requirement would have helped even one woman obtain better treatment, Texas admitted that there was no evidence in the record of such a case,” Breyer wrote.

The key to the ruling was the fact that the Court saw through the lie used to justify the restrictions, namely protecting patients' health.  More dangerous procedures are done every day in clinics not up to the standards sought to be inflicted on clinics providing abortion services - and other essential services to poor women.   Moreover, if Republicans and Christofascists really gave a damn about patient health, they would no oppose Medicaid expansion and they would not seek to cut funding for programs that benefit children once they are born.  The hypocrisy is off the charts.  Kudos to the Court for giving them the smack down they deserved.   One must never forget that the Christofascists and Republican political whores who do their bidding are NOT nice and decent people.  They care only about themselves and their quest to force their fear and hate based beliefs on all Americans.  They are vipers. 

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