Conservative’s Like Gov. Scott Dealt A Big Loss
WASHINGTON – Memo to Florida Gov. Rick Scott and other conservative lawmakers who are doing all they can to stop abortion and to put women’s heath at risk with sham laws.” The United States Supreme Court is on to you and they made it known in a decisive way Monday.
The 5-3 ruling is the most significant decision from the Supreme Court on abortion in two decades and could serve to deter other states from passing so-called “clinic shutdown” laws. In joining with the liberal justices, perennial swing vote Justice Anthony Kennedy helped deliver a victory to abortion rights activists and signaled the court’s majority in their favor could continue regardless of the presidential election and the filling of the empty seat on the bench left by the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. Abortion providers in a landmark case, offering the strongest affirmation of the constitutional right to safe, legal, accessible abortion since Roe v. Wade. In recent years, anti-choice, governors and their legislators, have cynically claimed to be protecting women’s health when in fact they seek to eliminate abortion clinics by enacting regulations that are impossible to comply with. The result has been a harsh reality where women who live in states such as Mississippi, Texas, and others beset by these attacks on reproductive rights simply don’t have the same rights as women who live in New York and California.
The fact is, politicians, not doctors, have been pushing these restrictions through sham laws. Leading medical experts — including the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists — filed a brief with the Supreme Court making clear that these restrictions are medically unnecessary and do nothing to promote women’s health.
The average person probably isn’t aware of these restrictions because that’s exactly what the politicians who support these clinic shutdown laws want. They’ve passed these sham laws as a way to sneak around the Constitution, force abortion clinics to shut their doors and deny women their right to access safe medical care and legal, safe abortions.
Politicians simply cannot be allowed to deny women their constitutional right to decide whether to continue or end a pregnancy. Monday the United States Supreme Court sent a very strong message that politically-motivated attacks on women’s health care will not stand. Justice Stephen Breyer’s majority opinion in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt is an unequivocal rejection of the mistruths at the heart of a fast-spreading rash of state abortion restrictions that shut down abortion clinics under the guise of protecting women’s health
A Supreme Court justice tearing down an anti-abortion argument based on pure common sense is a mark of decisive victory, but the best part of Breyer’s opinion is his contention that the undue burden HB2 placed on women’s access to abortion actually negated any spurious health benefit a woman might gain from a provider’s admitting privileges or a clinic’s surgical-center qualifications. Breyer also acknowledged that the admitting-privileges provision was more a political stunt than a practical safety measure, especially since many hospitals will refuse admitting privileges to abortion providers for religious or political reasons. In Monday’s opinion Breyer uses the example of an OB-GYN who delivered more than 15,000 babies in 38 years of practice but couldn’t get admitting privileges as an abortion provider at any one of the seven hospitals near his clinic. Thus, Breyer wrote, “the admitting-privileges requirement does not serve any relevant credentialing function.”
He continued to expose the “Sham Laws,” used by conservative lawmakers to restrict abortions and a woman’s access to medical care. Here is that segment of Breyer’s opinion: In the face of no threat to women’s health, Texas seeks to force women to travel long distances to get abortions in crammed-to-capacity super-facilities. Patients seeking these services are less likely to get the kind of individualized attention, serious conversation, and emotional support that doctors at less taxed facilities may have offered. Healthcare facilities and medical professionals are not fungible commodities. Surgical centers attempting to accommodate sudden, vastly increased demand may find that quality of care declines. … These effects would be harmful to, not supportive of, women’s health.
Texas lawmakers have argued that the two provisions of HB2 challenged in Whole Woman’s Health—one required abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals; the other demanded that abortion clinics be outfitted like hospital-grade operating theaters—were necessary to prevent abortion-related complications and deaths.
In his opinion, Breyer noted that Texas had “no significant health-related problem for the new law to cure,” since abortions rarely result in dangerous complications, and if they do, they’re far more likely to arise in the days and weeks after the procedure. His opinion cites examples of several medical procedures far more dangerous than abortions that Texas still allows outside of surgical centers—colonoscopies, child birth, liposuction, medical treatment after a miscarriage.
Another opinion came from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined Breyer’s opinion and wrote a brief concurring opinion, which focused on what she called women in “desperate circumstances.”
“When a State severely limits access to safe and legal procedures, women in desperate circumstances may resort to unlicensed rogue practitioners, faute de mieux, at great risk to their health and safety,” she wrote.
Video used in this story comes courtesy both CNN and the Young Turks