Sunday, February 28, 2016

Why Courts Shouldn’t Ignore the Facts About Abortion Rights

Linda Greenhouse, NYT
FEB. 27, 2016

At the core of the most important Supreme Court abortion case in a generation is a series of questions about facts. In deciding the constitutionality of a law that would shut down most abortion clinics in a state in the name of protecting women’s health, which facts about the law’s rationale and its impact may a court consider? Which facts must a court consider? Are there facts a court must ignore entirely?

Granted, that’s not how the Texas abortion case that is scheduled to be argued on Wednesday is usually described. I’ll explain. But first, for context, I’ll put on the table a few facts about House Bill 2, the 2013 Texas law that requires abortion clinic doctors to have hospital admitting privileges and the clinics themselves to be fitted out as mini-hospitals, even those that simply dispense the pills that bring about a nonsurgical abortion.

Fact No. 1: Texas has regulated abortion clinics for years through strict licensing requirements and annual inspections, achieving a commendable safety record. Along with other medical clinics that provide outpatient services, abortion clinics were required to have emergency procedures in place in case a patient needed hospital care. The clinic’s doctors could either have hospital admitting privileges (which most doctors who provide abortions can’t get) or a “transfer” agreement with another physician who had admitting privileges. The law eliminated the transfer-agreement option for abortion clinics.

Fact No. 2: If the law goes into effect, the abortion clinics in El Paso will close, leaving no abortion services from San Antonio west to the New Mexico border. This is no problem, Texas maintains, because women who would have gone to El Paso can travel about 12 miles farther, across the New Mexico line, to an abortion clinic in Santa Teresa, N.M. The fact that New Mexico has neither the admitting-privileges nor mini-hospital requirements — the very requirements that Texas maintains are necessary to protect the safety of abortion patients — seems not to concern the state.

(More here.)


Blogger Tom Koch said...

Fact 4 - Greenhouse never mentions that an abortion results in a death. The last time I checked, US citizens have a right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. I suppose it is inconvenient truth.

10:03 AM  

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