Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The significance of SCOTUS overturning the Texas anti-abortion cases

Yesterday, the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional two Texas anti-abortion laws that were so restrictive that already 22 of 40 clinics that provide safe, legal abortion in the state of Texas closed just on the basis of one of the laws that had gone into effect.   That was the one that required any doctor performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles.

And if the other one, which required facilities to be equipped as surgical centers, was allowed to go into effect, it's estimated that only 7 or 8 clinics in all of Texas would have survived.

The 5 to 3 majority opinion, written by Justice Steven Breyer, was clear and direct.   In effect, it called the bluff of Texas, which tried to claim that this was done to protect the health of women.   Justice Breyer pointed out that they had not introduced one shred of evidence to show this.   In fact, in the oral arguments, Texas' attorney was asked directly;  and he had to admit that they did not have one single case to show that a woman failed to get the medical treatment she needed because of the facility.

It's not just that these laws were unnecessary for women's health;  they actually harm women's health.    When so many clinics have to close, it means that women have to travel far from home, wait longer, and lack the support they would have closer to home.  Even in many cases, women resort to unsafe methods, because they lack ready access to good care.

Nancy Northup, President of the Center for Reproductive Rights, told Chris Hayes on MSNBC that "The Court restored the promise of Roe v. Wade for the next generation of women;" and it did so by renewing the decision in the Casey case from 24 years ago that said such laws cannot put "an undue burden" on a woman' right to choose.


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