Yesterday, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a 2013 Texas law with significant abortion restrictions, that will force the closure of all but seven of the 40 remaining abortion clinics remaining in Texas. This is the law that prompted Wendy Davis to filibuster for 11 hours in tennis shoes on the floor of the Texas Senate in order to prevent it from going into effect.
But Rick Perry called the legislature back into session and got it done anyway.
The law requires abortion clinics to have the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers, and it requires the doctors to perform them to have admitting privileges in local hospitals. The proponents claim that this was all about women’s health, but that’s a total sham, of course. It’s not about women’s health. It’s about preventing abortions. Anybody with a lick of sense knows that. Anybody who is just a little bit honest knows that.
If it were about women’s health, Texas could just approve the RU46 “morning after” pill, which has far fewer complications than any kind of medical abortion. (Completely irrelevant aside: the RU46 sound like a model of an Infinity, doesn’t it?)
So here we are, 42 years after the Roe v. Wade decision, and abortion rights in the United States are more restricted than ever. Not in Massachusetts or Vermont or New York, mind you. But in Texas and Kansas and Missouri.
Of course, the fine voters of Texas could have elected Wendy Davis governor, since she was running, but they didn’t do that. Voting for restrictive abortion laws seems not to generate any risk for politicians in Texas. There seems to be no danger at all that doing so might get them thrown out of office.
Now, no sensible person would argue that abortion is a preferred way of engaging in birth control. It’s a bit of a minefield, about that there can be no question. But one would have thought that at least the legality of it was decided 42 years ago.
A lot of Texas voters seem to labor under the misimpression that abortion is outlawed by the Bible. But it’s not. Or, one might ask the question, what did Jesus say about abortion? The answer, of course, is nothing. Jesus talked a lot about poverty; he said absolutely nothing about abortion. And that is not because abortion was unknown in the greater Palestine of his day. The practice of abortion, which likely existed much longer, was already documented in ancient Egypt as long ago as 1550 BCE.
No, it’s the Catholic Church that came to the conclusion that abortion is a sin. But not until abortions became medically possible and eventually even routine. But most of the Texas voters aren’t Catholic. They are Evangelical Protestants who rejected Catholicism a long time ago.
And now, because two different Appeals Courts in the 5th Circuit came to two different conclusion about very similar laws in Texas and Missouri, this one is probably going to the Supreme Court. Let’s hope that Ruth Bader Ginsburg stays alive long enough to hear the case.
As for Scalia, break a leg, so to speak.
To read the actual opinion in the Texas case, check out Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole.