Abortions are legal in the U.S., aren’t they? Well, that is technically true according to federal law, but in reality, they might as well be illegal.
More than 40 clinics operated in Texas before the 2013 law. Afterward, nearly half closed. If the costly hospital-grade requirements stand, many more would shut down.
The court’s decision will be a red-hot issue that touches on fascinating social and religious conflicts. With the vigorous presidential election coming up next November, this case will be rich fodder for both Democrats and Republicans.
Whole Woman’s Health and other clinics’ attorneys make the point that the law is too restrictive:
[It] imposes an undue burden on women seeking to end their pregnancies, in violation of Supreme Court decisions protecting abortion rights.
The healthcare providers are challenging a state law that forces Texas clinics offering abortions to have hospital-grade facilities and requires physicians to obtain admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles (48 km).
The case has been in court for some time. A federal trial judge agreed that the state’s law was in direct conflict with federal law. Then, the New Orleans U.S. Court of Appeal for the 5th Circuit reversed this earlier ruling.
The Supreme Court will hear the challenge on March 2, with a ruling expected by the end of June.
There is a serious risk to bringing this fight to the Supreme Court, because the court is deeply divided on the abortion issue. The court is conservative-heavy, but Justice Anthony Kennedy is a swing vote.
Last term, Kennedy voted with the conservatives in all 10 cases decided by one vote. This year, he voted with the majority in 10 of 15 decisions.
On occasion, Chief Justice John Roberts has surprised many by voting with the liberal justices. He compares his role as judge to an umpire. As such, he will:
Call balls and strikes and not to pitch or bat.
Ever since Roe v. Wade in 1973, people have fought to bring it down.
The last time the Supreme Court took an abortion case was in 2007, when the court chipped away at Roe v. Wade. They upheld a ban on late-term abortions in a 5-4 vote.
“Partial-birth abortion” is a term manufactured by conservatives, but it is not thecorrect medical term. It is:
Alternately known as ‘dilation and extraction’ or ‘D&X’ and ‘intact D&E.’
Texas officials defending their law can respond to the clinics’ challenge until January’s end.
State officials continue arguing that they are trying to protect women’s health; although, the clinics cite statistics that prove abortion complications are very rare.
The healthcare clinics’ case is Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 15-274.
Image: Chris Wieland via Flickr.