Wednesday, October 15, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court Halts Texas Abortion Law. Three Justices Dissent. They Will Go to Heaven

Hold on Texas Abortion Law Will Allow Unsanitary Clinics to Remain Open. Is This Better Than a Clothes Hanger?

As Mississippi's sole remaining abortion provider, JWHO is widely regarded as a trophy in the ongoing battle over abortion in the South.
As Mississippi's sole remaining abortion provider, JWHO is widely regarded as a trophy in the ongoing battle over abortion in the South. Photo by R.L. Nave

The U.S. Supreme Court has blocked Texas from enforcing key provisions of a 2013 law that would close all but eight of the state’s abortion facilities. Texas' law resembles a law that Mississippi legislators passed that requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.
Today, over the dissents of the three most conservative justices—Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Sam Alito—the court suspended a ruling by the lower 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that allowed Texas to enforce the rule requiring abortion clinics to comply with hospital-level standards.
That appeals court’s ruling suspended a previous decision by U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel, who found that such upgrades were less about the health and safety of women than making access to abortion increasingly more difficult.
In July, the 5th Circuit also ruled against Mississippi's law because it would have shuttered the state's only abortion clinic, Jackson Women's Health Organization in Jackson.
The court also put on hold a separate provision of the Texas law only as it applies to clinics in McAllen and El Paso that requires doctors at the facilities to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The admitting privileges remains in effect elsewhere in Texas.
The 5th Circuit is still considering the overall constitutionality of the sweeping measure overwhelmingly passed by the GOP-controlled Texas Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry last year.
But even as it weighs the merits of the law, the appeals court said that it can be enforced in the meantime — opening the door for the emergency appeal to the Supreme Court.
Allowing the rules on hospital-level upgrades to be enforced — including mandatory operating rooms and air filtration systems — shuttered more than a dozen clinics across Texas.
Until the nation's highest court intervened, only abortion facilities in the Houston, Austin, San Antonio and the Dallas-Fort Worth areas remained open. And none was left along the Texas-Mexico border or outside any of the state's largest urban areas.
Some other clinics, meanwhile, had closed even earlier amid enforcement of the rule on admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. That portion has already been upheld twice by the appeals court.
The fight over the Texas law is the latest over tough new abortion restrictions that have been enacted across the country. The office of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican who is the favorite in next month's governor's race, is leading the defense of the law.
Critics call the measure a backdoor effort to outlaw abortions.
Attorneys for the state have denied that Texas women would be burdened by fewer abortion facilities, saying nearly 9 in 10 would still live within 150 miles of a provider. The law's opponents, however, note that still leaves nearly a million Texas women embarking on drives longer than three hours to get an abortion.
Democrat Wendy Davis launched her campaign for governor behind the celebrity she achieved through a nearly 13-hour filibuster last summer that temporarily blocked the law in the state Senate.
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