Monday, June 27, 2016

Only to add an undue burden

The Supreme Court ended its term today by issuing rulings in the last of its cases. The big ruling was on abortion rights. It was good to see an 8-member court didn't need that 9th member. The vote was 5 to 3. The ruling tackled restrictions place on abortions to protect the health of the woman who experience complications, as the law in Texas put it. Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Kagan, Breyer, and Kennedy concluded that reasoning was bunk and only served to add undue burden to getting an abortion.

Two provisions in the Texas law were struck down – an abortion clinic must meet hospital standards and the doctor must have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. There are 23 other states with one or both of those provisions (Michigan has one of them). All these state are affected by this ruling.

Now on to tackle the waiting requirement that women must be given pre-abortion "counseling" much of which is inaccurate or outright lies. Those kinds of laws are in 27 states. But that will take another case.

When the Texas law went into effect about 20 abortion clinics closed. That was about half of the clinics in Texas. If the Court ruled in favor of the law Texas would have been left with only 8-9 clinics. Those that closed will not necessarily reopen, at least won't do so quickly. For example, the staff may have gotten other jobs.

Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSBlog explains the ruling. Thomas had dissented, arguing that the Court had a tendency of treating abortion rights more favorably than other rights. I'm not sure what that means and Denniston doesn't provide details.

The dissent by Alito and joined by Roberts and Thomas was mostly that the Court shouldn't have taken the case. This case went before the Fifth Circuit and failed. Some of the same doctors filed a new challenge. This dissent argued because some of the same doctors were involved it should not have been allowed to proceed. This follows the old judicial doctrine that when one loses one can't sue again. The majority rejected that idea for this case.

Melissa McEwen, writing for Blue Nation Review, has a full-throated defense of the right to abortion. We value lives differently – we value citizens over non-citizens, free citizens over inmates, wealthy over poor, those with health insurance over those who don't. And we value the life of the fetus over that of the mother, "a living, breathing, thinking adult woman whose life is considered to be worth less than a potential life."

I've read enough of McEwen's writings to know that while she recognizes society values the life of a wealthy person over the life of a poor person she certainly does not agree that such difference in value is a good thing or healthy for that society.

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