On June 27, the Supreme Court ruled 5-3 in the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt case, striking down a Texas law that was intended to ensure that abortion providers offer clean and safe facilities. Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was nominated to his bench by President Ronald Reagan, sided with the four justices nominated to the Court by Democrats. The ruling is seen by pro-life organizations as a blow to women’s health care. According to the Thomas More Law Center, the decision represents a continuation of the Supreme Court’s “history of pandering to pro-abortion groups that prey on women in crisis.”
According to the Thomas More Law Center, a nonprofit public interest law firm, “The ruling forces women seeking abortions to receive below-standard health care by allowing abortions facilities to circumvent the minimum standards of care required for other surgical facilities simply because their product is abortion.”
Attorney Kate Oliveri of the Thomas More Law Center said of the ruling, “In effect, the Court has given abortionists a constitutional right to increase their profit margin by providing second-class healthcare to women. We must rise to the challenge of protecting women from this profit-seeking industry that preys upon women and makes a mockery of the women’s rights movement.”
In a statement, the Ann Arbor MI-based firm said that Texas legislation was “enacted to raise standards of care and ensure the health and safety of all abortion patients.” This 2013 legislation included two provisions challenged all the way up to the Supreme Court:
Physicians performing abortion procedures must have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion facility (“admitting-privileges requirement”).
Abortion facilities must comply with the minimum standards of care for surgical facilities (“surgical-center requirement”).
A group of abortion providers challenged these provisions as too costly, arguing many abortion providers would close down.
The Supreme Court bought their argument. It held that easy abortion access is more important than safe abortion procedures done by competent doctors with local hospital privileges.
Here are some of the standard Texas surgical-center requirements enacted by the Texas law:
an “adequate number” of registered nurses;
fire emergency precautions;
ceiling, wall, and floor finishes;
separate soiled utility and sterilization rooms;
regulated air pressure, filtration, and humidity control; and
Quoting the recently departed Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas chastised the majority in his dissent for “bend[ing] the rules when any effort to limit abortion, or even speak in opposition to abortion is at issue.” Justice Thomas noted that the decision “will surely mystify lower courts for years to come.”
Richard Thompson of the Thomas More Law Center observed, “The Court marginalizes itself as it repeatedly fabricates new legal standards that are not found in the Constitution to reach the ideological results it wants. This is especially clear with the decisions surrounding the Court-created right to abortion.”
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